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Pictured, from left: Town of Grand Island Supervisor John Whitney, Golden Age Center Recreation Supervisor Jennifer Menter, Congressman Brian Higgins and Deputy Supervisor Pete Marston. (Submitted)
Pictured, from left: Town of Grand Island Supervisor John Whitney, Golden Age Center Recreation Supervisor Jennifer Menter, Congressman Brian Higgins and Deputy Supervisor Pete Marston. (Submitted)

Grand Island Golden Age Center gets $850,000 HVAC grant

Mon, Jun 26th 2023 04:20 pm

By Karen Carr Keefe

Senior Contributing Writer

Grand Island Supervisor John Whitney announced on Monday that Congressman Brian Higgins has secured an $850,000 grant for the town’s Golden Age Center.

The grant will be used to improve the center’s heating, ventilating and air condition system.

“This funding will provide a comfortable, safe and healthy environment for all seniors, staff and community members visiting the Golden Age Center,” Higgins said. “We are pleased to work with Supervisor Whitney to deliver a generational improvement to the Town of Grand Island’s building infrastructure.”

He added, “One of the nice things about representing this (district) in the U.S. Congress, you can work with people from all parts and various towns and jurisdictions to get things done for the people that we represent.”

Higgins said his office identifies federal sources of funding, but the priorities are established by the local community.

“This $850,000 grant means everything to us,” said Jennifer Menter, recreation supervisor for the town’s senior citizens. “So many of our seniors think of this place as their second home.”

She thanked Whitney, Higgins and Town Board Senior Center Liaison Pete Marston, who was also on hand for the announcement.

“This grant is going to provide so much for our seniors here … so much cooling for our seniors on the hottest of days,” Menter said. “It is going to provide the warmest for our seniors on the coldest of days. Our building is pretty antiquated … it’s already going on 70 years old.”

“We utilize each and every nook and cranny and room in our building for every program you can possibly think of,” Menter said after the news conference.

The center, built in 1954, is really drafty, she said, and typically the seniors always dress in layers to be comfortable. Menter said the grant will help make the building viable for many years to come.

“This grant really blew me away and made us really smile today. It was quite the big surprise,” she said. “We’re getting so much foot traffic in this building, so we’re trying to keep up with the demand, which is a really, really exciting time for us.”

She said that even people from other towns are asking to become members.

“We’re serving probably about 125 people per day, and that’s between our home-cooked lunch program, transportation, our Meals on Wheels programs, and all the phone calls that we constantly have coming in,” Menter said. In addition, there are many classes offered, including Tai Chi, total body workout and other exercise programs, as well as birthday parties, social activities and special events.

An $850,000 grant was announced by U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins and town officials on Monday for heating, ventilation and air conditioning at Grand Island’s Golden Age Center. From left are Higgins, Golden Age Center Recreation Supervisor Jennifer Menter, Town of Grand Island Supervisor John Whitney and Town Board Senior Center Liaison Pete Marston. (Photo by Karen Carr Keefe)


The funding, secured by Higgins, builds on $61,000 in Federal Community Block Grant funding previously designated for Grand Island through the Erie County Community Development Consortium, to make the project, estimated to cost $910,000, possible, according to a news release from Higgins office.

The news release also stated that Grand Island’s population has grown 15% since the last census, to nearly 21,290 people. More than 25% of Island residents are over age 60.

One of the seniors who enjoys programs at the center is Dorothy Martinelli.

“It’s a wonderful feeling knowing that the center is going to have great cooling on the warm summer days, and heat in the winters to come. It’s just wonderful … that this grant is given to the center,” she said.

Martinelli also serves as a senior assistant, offering advice, companionship and housework help to seniors in the community.

“At the center, right now, I’m involved in bingo – I love the bingo games – and I’m here for the lunch programs, and I just love being with the community, too, at the senior center. It’s a really great place to be,” she said.

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