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The legacy of Queens-based senior citizen advocate Rose Kryzak, who died in 1999 at 99, has not been forgotten as three annual awards are set to be bestowed in her name at a Nov. 5 fund-raiser to benefit the nonprofit Flushing House retirement residence.
A dedicated advocate and activist, Kryzak is most remembered for her key role in helping to pass New York’s landmark 1987 Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage legislation, according to Robert F. Salant, director of community relations at Flushing House.
The legislation established a program that helps seniors afford prescription drugs. A resident of Flushing House for the final 13 years of her life, Kryzak left a “huge vacuum” in the senior advocacy community when she died, Salant said.
A year after her death, the first Rose Kryzak Senior Leadership Awards were distributed to deserving senior advocates, and the tradition has continued with three new recipients named every year.
“When she passed away, the idea was ... to give [senior advocates] recognition for the work they’re doing in the name of Rose Kryzak,” he said.
This year’s award recipients are Suzanne Metaxas, Jane Qui and Marianne Altman.
Metaxas, 59, first discovered the rewards that come with helping seniors through the experiences of her mother, who worked in a senior center.
The Oakland Gardens resident says she started out teaching arts and crafts at the HANAC JVL Senior Center in Astoria and moved up the ladder, becoming director of the HANAC East-West Connection senior transportation program in 1989. At that time, the program served 700 clients in three districts. By the time she left in 1996, it served 1,366 clients in five districts, according to a Flushing House statement.
Later that year she became director of the HANAC Senior Center of College Point. During her tenure, which ended in 2003, she significantly boosted the number of meals the center served and delivered. Metaxas also did advocacy work with several organizations, including the Queens Interagency Council on Aging, where she worked alongside Kryzak to further senior citizens’ causes.
“We all used to joke amongst ourselves that we wanted to grow up to be another Rose Kryzak,” she said. “... I have been thrilled to receive many awards, but nothing like the Rose Kryzak award because she was an amazing, amazing person.”
Qiu is director of the Selfhelp Prince Street Senior Center in Flushing, a facility which provides services for area elderly residents, a large percentage of whom are Asian immigrants.
Starting there as a social worker in 1999, she became director in 2004, leading a team that provides services, including English and citizenship courses, counseling, job placement and more to about 200 residents a day.
Many elderly immigrants feel isolated, Qiu said, and these services are aimed at helping them feel more at home.
“We encourage our seniors to stand up on their own,” she said.
Qui said she intends to continue helping seniors “as long as [her] health permits,” and for that commitment she was chosen to receive a Rose Kryzak award.
Altman will be recognized chiefly for her contributions to the work done by Catholic Charities Neighborhood Services. She began as a case manager at its Peter J. Dellamonica Jr. Center for Seniors in Astoria in 1994. In 2006, she took over as CCNS Southwest Queens Senior Services program manager, overseeing four centers’ operations and the area’s Meals-on-Wheels program, according to the Flushing House statement.
In November 2008, Altman returned to Peter J. Dellamonica as its program manager. She has already been awarded a commendation from the New York City Department for the Aging for revitalizing the center, according to the statement.
If You Go
Flushing House Gala Fund-raising Dinner
When: 6 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 5
Where: Westbury Manor, 11-00 Jericho Tnpk., Westbury, L.I.
Contact: RSVP by Oct. 23 by sending name and address, accompanied by a $75 check payable to Robert F. Salant, to Flushing House, 38-20 Bowne St., Flushing, NY 11354
Extra: All proceeds benefit a special endowment fund to help keep Flushing House affordable for its residents. For more information, call 347-532-3025 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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