Life Is Grand: Staten Island Friendship Clubs

Enjoying Life as a Staten Island Grandparent

Enjoying Life as a Staten Island Grandparent

Ain’t it good to know that you’ve got a friend?” In 1971, when James Taylor sang those lyrics, I’m sure he didn’t realize how true they would ring for thousands of seniors who have found fun, friendship, and even romance in Staten Island’s own Friendship Clubs.

So where can a mature lady or gentleman go for a reasonable breakfast, lunch, card playing, art lessons, bocce, or singing and dancing? How about one of the four Friendship clubs that operate daily from about 8:30am to 3:00pm?

The Friendship Clubs accept members 60 years and older. Members may be accompanied by an aide or family member. According to some clubs, youngsters under 60 are asking to join! For a small contribution (usually $1-$2), the four active Staten Island clubs serve breakfast and lunch five days a week.

According to Jeannie Agnello, coordinator at the Arrochar Friendship Club, the club is a hopping place where on any given day you may find members playing Mahjong, participating in a Glee Club, using computers, or dancing to the music of a DJ spinning discs.

“The center is a wonderful place for friendships, as well as a few romances,” but she warns that the ladies do outnumber the men. “Our members enjoy the indoor activities as well as our outings, which could be anything from a day trip to Atlantic City or a week vacation in the Ozark Mountains.”

Hundreds of seniors gather at Friendship Clubs throughout Staten Island, arriving by foot, car, Access-A-Ride, or via a fleet of buses that provide transportation to friends in the area of the clubs.

Anna Stout, the coordinator of the Mount Loretto Friendship Club, enjoys her job and takes great pride in the Club that hosts about 150 members a day. “We are a very active club, a great place for seniors to make friends and sometimes romances. We have had weddings and many birthday celebrations. People feel good here, and we welcome everyone. Our bocce courts and billiard tables are extremely popular. Socializing and keeping seniors active is good for the mind. It helps people to not become too depressed. We even have a stress management class, along with Tai Chi and outings.”

There are currently four Friendship Clubs operating: Arrochar, Great Kills, Mount Loretto and Todt Hill. The New Dorp Center has been out of commission since Hurricane Sandy. According to Marie Didato, Associate Director of SI Community Services Friendship Club, Inc., “We are working closely with the Department of Parks to refurbish and reopen the New Dorp Friendship Club. Many seniors are anxiously awaiting the reopening.” Some of those members have been attending the Great Kills and Arrochar Friendship Clubs in the interim.

For many vital seniors who are young at heart, the club is a place to meet friends, challenge their minds and bodies, and eat nutritious meals. For some, cooking has become difficult and shopping is quite an expense these days, so the nutritious meals are a blessing.

For information about the clubs, contact: Marie Didato at 718. 356.5050.

Note: In addition to Friendship Clubs, Staten Island is home to other senior centers, such as the Joan and Alan Bernikow Jewish Community Center and The United Federation of Teachers Retired Teacher Center, where seniors and retirees can meet, take classes and enjoy life, For a list of other resources for seniors on Staten Island, visit siparent.com/seniors.

Marianna Randazzo is a Staten Island author and educator who is enjoying her new role of Grandmother.

Related Articles:
Staten Island Parent’s Grandparents Column: Life is Grand



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  1. Greenbelt Peepers

    March 23 @ 9:45 am - 10:15 pm
    March 23, 2017  |  9:45 am - 10:15 pm
    Greenbelt Nature Center
    Through hands-on activities, crafts, and stories, two-year-old kids and their caregivers will become familiar with the sights and sounds of the forest. Space is limited. Registration requested. To register, please email naturecenter@sigreenbelt.org or call (718) 351-3450.
  2. Free Foreclosure Legal Services

    March 23 @ 10:00 am - 3:00 pm
    March 23, 2017  |  10:00 am - 3:00 pm
    Senator Andrew Lanza's District Office
    The Mobile Legal Help Center is a partnership between the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) and the New York State Courts Access to Justice Program that provides free foreclosure legal services to New Yorkers in need. Private meeting rooms
  3. Toddler/Preschool Story Time

    March 23 @ 10:30 am - 11:15 am
    March 23, 2017  |  10:30 am - 11:15 am
    St. George Library
    Songs, rhymes, picture book stories, & a craft activity are all part of this story time. Registration required.
  4. Toddler Storytime

    March 23 @ 11:00 am
    March 23, 2017  |  11:00 am - 11:00 am
    Todt Hill-Westerleigh Library
  5. Tot’s Time Plus

    March 23 @ 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
    March 23, 2017  |  11:00 am - 1:00 pm
    SI Children's Museum
    Your pre-schooler will create artwork, sing along and listen to stories.
  6. Greenbelt Tree Tots

    March 23 @ 11:00 am - 11:45 am
    March 23, 2017  |  11:00 am - 11:45 am
    Greenbelt Nature Center
    Through hands-on activities, crafts, and stories, children will become familiar with the sights and sounds of the forest. Space is limited. Registration required. Email nature center@sigreenbelt.org or by phone at 718-351-3450. Fee: $3 or Free for Greenbelt Conservancy Members.
  7. Bouncing Babies

    March 23 @ 11:15 am
    March 23, 2017  |  11:15 am - 11:15 am
    West New Brighton Library
    Come for playtime, stories and songs for babies and their caregivers.
  8. Baby Social

    March 23 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
    March 23, 2017  |  12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
    St. George Library
    Playground is too cold or it’s rainy? Do you and your baby need to get out of the house? Come to the library! A safe, indoor space for babies 0-23 months and their caregivers to play and socialize. Baby toys
  9. Reading & Technology Family Workshop

    March 23 @ 12:00 pm
    March 23, 2017  |  12:00 pm - 12:00 pm
    Huguenot Library
  10. Animal Time

    March 23 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    March 23, 2017  |  2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    SI Children's Museum
    Join us for this daily program and meet one of the animals from our living collection. Check the white board at the museum for details.