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The National Indo-American Association for Senior Citizens (NIAASC) held its seventh Conference on Seniors on November 1, 2003 at the Kerala Center in Elmont. The subject was 'Housing Opportunities for Seniors'. About 60 participants had the opportunity to interact during question/answer period and they asked pointed questions related to housing, process of getting in the existing senior complexes and any financial support provided by the Government in this regard. The speakers and panelists who participated during the 2-hour conference included Mr. Doug Aloise, Housing Administrator, the Catholic Charities, Ms. Chan Jamoona, executive director and founder president of the United Hindu Cultural Council Senior Center in South Ozone Park and Ms. Sheela Sreekumar, coordinator, New York City Housing Authority (Department of Social Services). The panel was moderated by Dr. Ashwin Pandya, NIAASC vice president. Based on the cumulative experience of the three professional speakers and panelists the participants realized that there were several ways Indian Seniors could get affordable housing in different communities. The discussion also provided ample opportunity to understand difference between Independent Housing and Assisted Living. Since many of the housing complexes for seniors are subsidized by the federal government under the HUD (Housing and Urban Development) program, seniors should explore the feasibility of getting them in order to have a comfortable and worry-free living during their golden years. During interaction it was also revealed that there is no exclusive housing meeting total needs for seniors of Indian origin. The affordability issue was described in details. Depending on amenities and services available in a particular complex the rents vary. Mr. Aloise suggested that there is a long waiting period and that seniors should get on all waiting lists that interest them. Some of the participants were curious to know if there were condos or co-ops where seniors could move after selling their current home. A number of suggestions were made in this regard but the speakers presented that there were no such complexes of condos or co-ops at this time where only Indian elderly lived. There were many pieces of useful material which the participants took with them for studying feasibility of getting around the housing situation. As a step next to Independent Living the speakers also touched upon 'Assisted Living' and described the process in selecting an appropriate Assisted Living arrangement. NIAASC made available many publications produced by AARP and other groups on Assisted Living to all participants.


The high point of the event was recognition of two community leaders for their untiring efforts to address concerns of senior citizens of Indian origin. Dr. Uma Mysorekar, President of the Hindu Temple Society of North America, was recognized not only for initiating a senior program at the Hindu Temple in Flushing, currently one day a week and soon to be extended five days a week, but also for her visionary approach to community service. Her enthusiasm for having a new building to be completed soon for a library and a senior program were lauded as excellent efforts by a religious institution. This will be a very helpful message to other religious entities to initiate similar programs. The senior program at the Temple is open to people of all faith. Dr. Mysorekar was also the chief guest speaker for the evening. Ms. Chan Jamoona, executive director of the United Hindu Cultural Council Senior Center in South Ozone Park was recognized for her crusade for addressing issues of seniors. Starting with seven seniors about 6 years ago the senior center has over 120 seniors coming to the center five days a week. In presenting the honoree, Mr. Satpal Malhotra, president of India Association of Long Island (IALI), stressed on the perseverance and patience Chan had shown in carrying out the senior program. The only program funded by the New York Office of Aging for seniors of Indian origin serves vegetarian lunch to all seniors and undertakes multitude of activities. Her program serves as a model for various Indian community organizations and a number of groups have been encouraged to initiate programs for seniors. As a matter of fact when the Hindu Temple kicked off its senior program, Chan Jamoona was the key note speaker. NIAASC presented both the honorees with plaques.

In her eloquent and thoughtful address as chief guest, Dr. Mysorekar deliberated on various programs she had initiated. She underscored the philosophy of 'not just talk but do it' to make a significant impact on the service component. She also dwelt on collaborative efforts to make a program succeed. She outlined briefly as to how NIAASC and the Hindu Temple have worked together and how the senior center run by Chan Jamoona has provided helpful tools for the Temple senior program. She suggested very strongly that community leaders have to fully understand community problems, their vulnerability, and aspirations. By virtue of her involvement with the Heart and Hand for the Handicapped (HHH) and Aid to the Disabled, Orphaned and Poor (ADOP), she emphasized on the sensitive and emotional issues our people face. Her mesmerizing speech provided the audience with a real sense of community spirit and service.


NIAASC had its fourth Annual General Body Meeting. In submitting the progress report for the year, NIAASC president, Rajeshwar Prasad, outlined how NIAASC came into existence six years ago and what NIAASC had accomplished in the areas of Information, Referral and Advocacy. He informed that the April 03 workshop attended by 18 representatives from 8 different community organizations on 'Process of Advocacy' was a good beginning and the speaker, Bobbie Sackman, presented a very impressive account of the process involved in Advocacy. He informed members about the six previous conferences identified in the program distributed. He also informed members that the toll free number of NIAASC gets averaging 4 telephone calls a month from different parts of the country and the NIAASC researches those problems and refers the callers to respective entities in their communities. He reiterated that four calls in a month may sound a small number but in the research process one call may require NIAASC to make 7-8 calls before the issue was resolved to the caller's satisfaction. Mr. Prasad focussed on the NIAASC collaborative efforts and cited a number of organizations with which the NIAASC had been working to help develop programs for seniors by providing these entities technical and logistic support. He emphasized that NIAASC does not want to reinvent wheels but to develop affiliation with existing groups and institutions for the benefit of seniors and develop a strategy based on collaborative ventures. The report of the Nominating Committee was given by Satya Malhotra who informed members that according to NIAASC Constitution one-third Board members retire every year. The seven members retiring on December 31, 2003, have agreed to continue as Board members. The General Body approved their Board membership for a period of three years ending December 31, 2006. Since there were two vacancies on the 21-member Board, nominations were sought from the members. Dr. Samir K. Dutta and Mr. Satpal Malhotra were unanimously approved to join the Board of Directors on January 1, 2004. NIAASC treasurer, Romesh Tewari, informed the members that though the FY 02-03 financial statement had been mailed to all members in July, he summarized the report for the benefit of members and made copies of the statement available to all.. In proposing a Vote of Thanks, NIAASC secretary, Tara Kotecha, described how positive relationships have been developed between different groups which have accomplished productive results for the benefit of seniors.

The event was coordinated by Dr. Ashok Satkalmi, NIAASC vice president who opened the conference with a condolence minute for the NIAASC secretary, Mr. Mathew Koshi, who passed away in February 2003 due to a massive heart attack. Presidents of NIAASC and Kerala Center, Mr. Prasad and Mr. Stephen respectively, welcomed the participants and guests. Sushila Gidwani-Buschi, Treasurer of GOPIO and a NIAASC Board member, recognized the collaborators, sponsors and other community leaders. The food served was vegetarian and arranged by the Candlelight restaurant in Elmont. The Corporate Sponsor was "MAAZA BEVERAGES' and collaborators included GOPIO, Kerala Center, IALI and Kanchi Kamakoti Seva Foundation. Ten nonprofit organizations supported deliberations of NIAASC in arranging this conference and Leadership Recognition Dinner. There were 15 individual sponsors as well.

7 Roberta Avenue
Farmingville, NY 11738