Senior citizens have it good in town around the holidays

Photo by Chris Sykes Irvington Senior Citizens Community Center Manager Gloria Chison, center, and Irvington Neighborhood Improvement Corporation Director Deborah Simpkins, right, stand with Jamilah Beasley-Mcleod, left, and Georgia Coney and others on Wednesday, Nov. 23, at the Irvington Neighborhood Improvement Corporation's Thanksgiving Community Dinner event at the social service agency's headquarters on 16th Avenue.
Photo by Chris Sykes
Irvington Senior Citizens Community Center Manager Gloria Chison, center, and Irvington Neighborhood Improvement Corporation Director Deborah Simpkins, right, stand with Jamilah Beasley-Mcleod, left, and Georgia Coney and others on Wednesday, Nov. 23, at the Irvington Neighborhood Improvement Corporation’s Thanksgiving Community Dinner event at the social service agency’s headquarters on 16th Avenue.

IRVINGTON, NJ — It’s good to be a senior citizen in Irvington, especially around the holidays, when everyone comes together for their elders. This was the case Tuesday, Nov. 22, when Mayor Tony Vauss and the township joined forces to host a pre-Thanksgiving holiday dinner at the Irvington Senior Citizen Center on Springfield Avenue.

“Every year, the Irvington Springfield Avenue Business Improvement District sponsors a luncheon for the seniors at 1077 Springfield Ave., the Irvington Senior Citizens Community Center,” said Irvington Senior Citizens Community Center Manager Gloria Chison on Wednesday, Nov. 23, at the Irvington Neighborhood Improvement Corporation’s pre-Thanksgiving community dinner at the charitable organization’s headquarters on 16th Avenue. “Yesterday, the food was prepared and served by Don’s Diner and it was a wonderful luncheon. After the seniors ate, then the mayor and the council presented them each with a turkey. And Super Fresh gave us some wonderful donations. … Everybody went home with a turkey, collard greens, sweet potatoes, apples, oranges and a box of cookies.”

Deborah Simpkins, the Irvington Neighborhood Improvement Corporation director, acknowledged there is a sort of friendly rivalry between her social service agency and the Irvington Senior Citizens Community Center, as well as other organizations in town, to see who can do the most for Irvington’s seniors during the holiday season.

“I’m competing with Gloria Chison today,” Simpkins said with a laugh Wednesday, Nov. 23. “But we work together because we have a great love and respect for our senior residents, and today we provided them with turkey wings, macaroni and cheese, rice, string beans and potatoes, candy yams and red velvet cake. And the mayor was here, the police director, the fire chief, the director of Public Safety, Councilwoman Dr. October Hudley; we had the council president, David Lyons; we had Councilman Vernon Cox from the West Ward, and we had the seniors here.”

Simpkins thanked Chison for using her personal time in make sure the township’s seniors could participate in the Irvington Neighborhood Improvement Corporation’s event.

“And Gloria Chison was so wonderful to come in on her day off, because loves the seniors to bring them over here,” Simpkins said, adding, “Each senior went home with a hen, a Cornish game hen for their families. And we thank them for being here.”

Georgia Coney, who is 75 years old “and glad of it,” was one of the many seniors who came out and enjoyed both holiday events. She thanked Simpkins for “doing a tremendous job for us today.”

“It’s excellent; I love my director and I love my mayor,” Coney said Wednesday, Nov. 23. “My mayor has done more for us than any other mayor did. And I am so proud of him and I’m going to keep doing for him and for our senior citizens.”

Simpkins credited Vauss and his leadership for the teamwork and consideration that made both the events successful.

“I think it’s a wonderful effort that you have to have somebody that wants to lead, that likes to lead … he is such a caring young man and he’s an awesome young man and I love him. I’m very biased. We all love him,” Chison said.

Simpkins said she loves Vauss, too.

“What stood out with me the most today was that, even though he had a very tight schedule, he stayed here,” Simpkins said. “He selected the music for the seniors; he took pictures with every child that wanted to take a picture with him, and I’m like: ‘Mayor, you gotta go.’ He said: ‘No.’ He said ‘everyone is important.’ And he took pictures with all of those children. He answered questions for the residents in here. He is such a giver and he made this all possible today.”

Vauss said it was his pleasure to give back to the seniors who have given him and everyone else in Irvington so much through the years. He said planning events for them around the holidays and throughout the year is the right thing to do.

“Both events were tremendous events. It was time to give back to the community and get into the holiday spirit,” said Vauss on Tuesday, Nov. 29. “Hundreds of seniors attended both events where we gave out gift baskets, turkeys and all the trimmings for Thanksgiving, as well as fed the community.”

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