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Gloversville Senior Center welcomes new director

The Gloversville Senior Center's new director, Aimee Ricciardi, sits in her office on Friday. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

GLOVERSVILLE — The Gloversville Senior Center welcomed a new director last week, lifelong city resident Aimee Ricciardi.

Ricciardi officially assumed the position of senior center director on Wednesday after being appointed by the Board of Directors last week.

“I love the senior community, I’m local to the area, I’ve lived here all my life. A lot of people my age have left because they feel that there’s nothing here and I feel that the town has a lot to offer. I feel that we can offer more to the seniors who have given for years and years to the community,” Ricciardi said Friday. “For me this was the perfect chance to be able to be part of it, be with them and help them find outlets for things that they may need help with or just to give them a gathering place to be together.”

Ricciardi said throughout her first week on the job members of the Board of Directors have supported her and regular programs at the center. The board will join Ricciardi at the center one Saturday later this month for a meet and greet breakfast offering the community a chance to get to know the new director, ask questions and provide any suggestions they may have.

“The board members have stepped up tremendously,” Ricciardi said. “The board has been wonderful with me this week with helping me step in and start right in.”

The director’s position will continue to be part-time, with Ricciardi typically working at the center Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Ricciardi will also continue to hold her current part-time position with the Mental Health Association assisting the advantage after school program and compeer youth program with daily activities as a liaison and organizing events.

Ricciardi is hoping that through her professional experience, that includes grant writing, and her personal experience as a board member with various organizations, including as the former president of the Johnstown Business & Professional Association, she will be able to support the needs of the community by continuing and expanding services at the senior center.

“I know that there have been questions about different programs that have been offered in the past,” Ricciardi said. “I am going to continue the programs that are here.”

“My goal is to expand services, expand the partnerships, I want to meet the needs for the community,” she added. “I would like to build up to the point where we can offer more free programs.”

Ricciardi noted that weekly meal programs, the food pantry and the free winter outerwear and pajama program for seniors have and will continue to be offered at the center. Ricciardi plans to submit a grant application in the near future seeking funding for the meal program, hoping to add another weekly lunch or possibly a dinner.

Since officially starting at the center on Wednesday, Ricciardi said she has already submitted two grant applications seeking funding to support the planned donation of Thanksgiving and Christmas meals and holiday gifts to those in need this year.

She has also prepared a calendar of classes and activities at the center for the next month including a special fall luncheon that will feature an Elvis impersonator and has begun preparing for holiday related events including a Friendsgiving dinner and a December shopping trip.

In the future Ricciardi is hoping to build new partnerships with local agencies and organizations to provide a variety of classes and activities centered around things like crafting, jewelry making, fitness and cooking. She also plans to organize new clubs for things like playing cards or knitting to add to the roster of existing clubs.

While organizing programs, activities and events to benefit seniors and the community is a priority, Ricciardi also wants to ensure that the senior center is a place that people feel comfortable visiting day-to-day.

“Even if we don’t have a program, we’re open,” Ricciardi said. “I want them to come and just be able to have somebody to be with, there’s no need for somebody to be home alone and lonely, they can use us as a meeting center, they can play a game a cards if they want, they can get out a puzzle, use the radio or the TV, grab a newspaper, read a book.”

“We have a few different rooms here too, we don’t just have our main room,” she added, noting that the center also features a library, art center and kitchen that seniors can utilize.

For those in need of someone to talk to, Ricciardi said she is more than willing to listen and provide assistance to those requiring access to additional support.

“I’m there for an ear for them, but if they do need other help I have outlets where I’m more than happy to find them the help that they need,” Ricciardi said.

In general Ricciardi is hoping that area seniors and those looking to get involved will visit the center to learn more about the services that are currently provided and plans for the future.

“We’re welcoming people to come, check us out, ask us questions,” Ricciardi said. “The door is open, come and meet me, I’ll take them on a tour.”

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