Lease Battle Behind Them, Community Switches Focus to Improve Hard Fought for Senior Center

For over 40 years, Greenwich House’s Our Lady of Pompeii Senior Center has served as a kitchen, a classroom and a second home for hundreds of Greenwich Village seniors. The Center serves hot lunches, provides art, exercise and recreational activities and facilitates social activities for its diverse membership.

It was a shock when last December Our Lady of Pompeii’s expressed disinterest in renewing the decades old lease. Rumor had it that the Church was hoping to rent the space for a premium to film crews which would have meant the end of the Center. A neighborhood staple, it was no surprise that the community turned out in force over the last eight months to protest. 

Seniors held a press conference extolling the vital role the Center plays in their daily lives. Neighbors circulated a petition on change.org.  And elected officials, including State Senator Brad Hoylman (pictured left celebrating at the Center), Councilmembers Margaret Chin and Corey Johnson, Assemblymember Deborah Glick and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer tirelessly pressed the Church and the Archdiocese to renegotiate and extend the lease.

Eight months later, Greenwich House announced that a three year lease for the Center had been secured. After rejoicing at a celebration hosted by Senator Hoylman, community members got right back to work, focusing on improving the Center they had fought so hard to keep. 

Volunteers from NYU transformed the Center’s cluttered thrift shop into a Village boutique. Formerly strewn across a series of folding tables, the University provided not only matching cabinets to display and store goods, but the manpower to assemble, sort and stock the new units as well. Jewelry is displayed in glass front cabinets, clothes are folded and shelved by style and CDs have their own section.

Habitat for Humanity also got involved. Brush with Kindness is one of the organization’s preservation programs that offer painting, landscaping and minor repair services to eligible homeowners and community organizations.  Habitat has committed their Brush division to repaint the voluminous Center this September. The drab brown will be replaced with a series of sunny yellows, more befitting of the rejuvenated Center.

“Sometimes it’s easy to feel like we’ve been forgotten,” said Center Director Sandy Gabin. “Seniors are often overlooked. But after the community came out, not just to fight to keep us, but to make us better, to make the seniors experience better, I know, we might not always be on the top of people’s minds, but we are definitely not forgotten.”

Our Lady of Pompeii Senior Center is located at 25 Carmine Street (enter on Bleecker Street). The Center and its thrift shop is open Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Contact Center Director Sandy Gabin at 212-989-3620 for more information. 

About Greenwich House

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