The Syracuse Salvation Army is taking senior citizens to the New York State Fair this week. It’s the kind of thing the Salvation Army has been trying to do since the city closed its own senior center. But the merging of seniors from the two centers has been an adjustment for some.
Since Syracuse's Ida Benderson Senior Center closed down about a year ago, seniors have been encouraged to use the Salvation Army on South Warren Street for social activities.
George Mosley volunteered for nine years at Ida Benderson where plans were kept loose. He says it took some time to get use to the Salvation Army where activities are much more structured, but now he likes it.
"Ida Benderson was a think-out-of-the-box type place. This place everything is right here, right there, and it's simple to get to."
Linda McNally, the Director of Adult Day Services at the Salvation Army, says twice as many seniors are participating in their program since the Benderson Center closed. The Salvation Army is now serving about 80 to 100 seniors a day.
"I think seniors that were here learned that there are a whole lot more seniors out there and it kind of gave us a lift, too. Wow, some new people and they want to do some different kinds of things, this is really cool."
Some seniors would still like to see the Ida Benderson Center come back.
"You can't never say that you don't miss where you came from, because we do miss it," said one former visitor to the Benderson Center.
A strapped Syracuse city budget caused funding for the Benderson Center to be cut, and the center to be closed. The common council unanimously passed a budget that restored money for the center. But Mayor Stephanie Miner protested the additional spending.