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Profile: Yonkers NNORC

If you’ve attended any of the programs offered by Yonkers Public Library, whether in person or online via Zoom, you may have noticed the involvement of Yonkers NNORC. Thanks to its partnership with the NNORC organization, YPL has been able to provide a variety of different programs and events, including meditation, yoga, weekly bingo games, and lectures on health and wellness topics.  

NNORC stands for Neighborhood Naturally Occurring Retirement Community. The organization, under the auspices of Westchester Jewish Community Services (WJCS) and Yonkers Office for the Aging, serves seniors who want to age in a home rather than nursing and assisted living facilities. NNORC launched in January 2020 to focus on seniors in northeast Yonkers.

As NNORC Program Director Sally Pinto explains, “Yonkers Office for the Aging has had challenges getting to the seniors who live in that particular area, so they in partnership with WJCS (Westchester Jewish Community Services) pursued a grant from the New York State Office for the Aging to set up the Yonkers NNORC. They got the grant, which is set up to offer seniors case management, transportation, programs and activities — anything that would interest them, but making sure they are taken care of while aging in place.”

Case Manager and Resource Specialist Alexis Smith refers seniors to outside agencies for anything from transportation and home-delivered meals to information about elder law and the Alzheimer’s Association. She also focuses on certain seniors for regular “friendly calling”: “A lot of people,” Smith says, “especially in these times, they need a friendly ear and somebody to talk to because they’re lonely.”

Yonkers NNORC is the first of its kind in Westchester County. “Between the end of January [2020] and when COVID hit, we were still getting our feet wet,” Pinto says. “Once COVID hit, we thought, ‘How are we going to get to seniors who don’t even know about us?’ We had to pivot. One thing we noticed was, because of COVID there was a lot of isolation for our seniors. That’s why we do the Zoom programs — so that they don’t feel like they’re alone.”

But, in order for the seniors to access these programs, they had to know how to use a computer. Pinto enlisted the aid of Yonkers Partners in Education (YPIE), which supports students preparing for college. YPIE recruited teenagers to help seniors learn the technology and log into the Zoom programs. Once the weather became warmer and COVID cases dropped, NNORC expanded to hybrid programs: for example, offering the weekly Bingo game online and in person at the Will Library.

As the NNORC name and its services disseminated through brochures, organizations reached out to Pinto. “We [are]grateful to Aetna,” Pinto says. “We needed someone to do yoga, and they called out of the blue and said ‘How can we help you?” We said, ‘We need a yoga instructor.’” So, we’ve had Nancy Guzman on Fridays sponsored by Aetna.” NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital has also contributed, sponsoring health and wellness lectures by physicians on topics such as breast cancer and prostate cancer.

Another program that NNORC offers is TIPS at Home, developed by the Department of Senior Programs and Services, which is assisting during the pandemic by measuring heart rate and oxygen levels in the blood. NNORC also recently partnered with Mercy College on Mercy’s pilot program Walk with Ease, a six-week program to promote walking. 

 “We’re still trying to grow and get our name out here,” Smith says. “So far we’ve been pretty successful. People are hearing about us and calling about us and saying “Hey, I got your brochure….”

Pinto says that a highlight of the NNORC experience is “being able to partner with so many different organizations who are willing to come together during this time of crisis. We have all these doctors from both of the hospitals — St. John’s Riverside and NewYork-Presbyterian. We have so many partners that we are so grateful to, because each of them has an expertise, but they are able to join together as one.”

For more information about Yonkers NNORC, please click here.

The NNORC Annual Newsletter: Year in Pictures 2021 Final 

NNORC Book Recommendations available via Westchester Library System: