West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Volume 77, Number 20 | October 17 - 23, 2007

Villager photo by Jefferson Siegel

On hand for installation of free bathtub/shower grab bars in Doris Denizard’s apartment on Harrison St. in Tribeca on Oct. 2 were, back row, from left, Councilmember Alan Gerson; and Arthur Makar, Caring Community executive director; middle row, from left, Denizard; and Lucy Cecere, co-founder of the Caring Community; and kneeling, Joseph Rivera, of the Homebound Repair Program for Seniors of the Caring Community, grabbing newly installed grab bar.

Raising the bar, grab bar project has gone citywide

A leading cause of death and hospitalization among the elderly is household falls. Two years ago, City Councilmember Alan Gerson and The Caring Community began a collaboration to reduce this statistic, launching the Grab Bar Installation Project.

Gerson allocated seed funding while The Caring Community provided person power to install grab bars in showers of seniors and disabled people in Gerson’s First Council District — including Greenwich Village and Lower Manhattan — on demand and free of charge. Since then, over 800 grab bars have been installed by Joseph Rivera, The Caring Community’s home repair manager. As part of the initiative, free, rubber, nonskid, flower stickers are also stuck on the participants’ bathtub bottoms.

To extend this program to older and handicapped persons throughout New York City, Gerson; Lucy Cecere, a co-founder of The Caring Community and Village Nursing Home; and Arthur Makar, The Caring Community’s executive director, met with state legislators, including Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who represents Lower Manhattan, and State Senator Serphin Maltese, of Queens.

The State Legislature backed the project, which went citywide on Oct. 1. 

Gerson praised the state lawmakers for their embrace of the program saying, “The state legislation enabling a tax credit for the installation of these life-saving grab bars will allow us to expand the program to address the overwhelming demand demonstrated by our pilot program for senior and disabled citizens of District 1.” 

“I am thrilled that this project is going citywide,” said Cecere. “It shows what can happen when elected officials partner with small nonprofit organizations to solve problems. What is tested on a small scale can then be rolled out to help more people.”

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