Here’s to Those Senior Moments
By Janice Llanes Fabry
“Every last one of our seniors has a story to tell.”
Seniors at Rye Recreation share the kind of senior moments that people of any age would welcome. Days are filled with scores of options, from bowling and bridge to luncheons and line dancing. They can dabble in arts and crafts, take an excursion to City Island, or take in a movie. Rye Recreation recognizes that our older residents are more active than ever and provides programming that meets their needs.
“The one thing I especially relish about working with the seniors,” said Rye Rec Superintendent and Seniors Director Sally Rogol, “is that most of them are younger than my parents would have been. I think in terms of providing services and programs that my parents would have liked. We focus on their abilities and interests.”
The Rye Senior Citizens group, founded in 1960 by then-Superintendent Ralph Damiano and Recreation Commissioner Lawrence Byrne, started out with 14 members. Today, there are 225, 47 of whom are in their 90s. Co-presidents Linda Ritacco and Francesca Fraine work closely with Rogol, as well as Nancy Fedorchak who coordinates all the programming, Karen LaMagna who helps set up every event, and Sophie Diamond who transports the seniors just about everywhere.
Every Wednesday afternoon, the co-presidents, both longtime Rye residents, preside over a meeting that always starts with the Pledge of Allegiance and a patriotic song. The first meeting of the month is extra special as it observes that month’s member birthdays.
Fraine, who has been involved with the group for a dozen years, noted, “I always meet friends here and it’s something to do as you become older. Also, I think it’s very important to help out and volunteer whenever you can.”
Before retirement, Fraine was an administrative secretary and a super stenographer, and Ritacco was in charge of accounts payable and transportation for the Rye City School District.
Rogol noted: “Every last one of our seniors has a story to tell. The history they have in this community is amazing. Many worked for our school district, several owned businesses here. We have everything from veterans who were M.I.A. to inventors.”
At this time in their lives, members take pleasure in coming together and participating in a myriad of activities, all sponsored by the Rye PBA and Kirby Golf. In addition to Bingo breakfasts, horse racing with dice, card games, and trips to the theater or the casino, seniors also take advantage of plenty of practical services — fitness classes, blood pressure screenings, and grocery shopping trips. They show up at programs at which guest speakers dispense invaluable information: Greenwich Hospital health care representatives focus on Medicare, the Rye Fire Department shares fire prevention tips, and the Rye Police Department offers advice on how seniors can protect themselves from money scams.
“If we don’t have something our seniors want, we try to implement it the next time,” remarked Ritacco. “It’s rewarding to see everyone come, so we try to attract as many as we can. I want to make sure everybody’s happy.”
<To join Rye Seniors, Rye residents can call 967-2535.>
Members at a recent Seniors gathering
Nonagenerians at a Rye Rec event
Francesca Fraine and Linda Ritacco, co-presidents of Rye Seniors