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1. To help frail and at-risk elderly residents of Morningside Gardens remain in their homes comfortably, safely, and with as much independence as possible for as long as they can;
2. To provide programs which promote health and provide opportunities for education, socialization and recreation for all older residents of Morningside Gardens, with particular attention to the special needs of the infirm, homebound, and isolated.
HISTORY OF VOLUNTEERS AT MRHS
Morningside Retirement and Health Services (MRHS) was founded in 1966 on two principles: self help for older adults and neighbors helping neighbors. The founders were a group of residents in Morningside Gardens, a middle-income cooperative housing complex in Morningside Heights. The apartment complex was constructed with government assistance and opened for occupancy in 1957 to house approximately 2,000 individuals. A group of forward-thinking older residents organized MRHS nine years later to serve those elderly residents who needed assistance in order to continue to live comfortably and safely in their homes.
For the first 20 years of the program, MRHS was staffed and run solely by older residents, working as volunteers. But by its twentieth year of service, the MRHS Board of Directors recognized that many of the original volunteers had "aged in place," and themselves needed assistance. Morningside Gardens had become a "NORC" -- Naturally Occurring Retirement Community -- with more than half of the apartments occupied by residents over the age of 60. In order to address the multitude of problems elderly residents were facing, professional support was needed to guide and supplement the work of volunteers. Several MRHS volunteers formed a committee to raise funds for this purpose, and in 1986 the first professional social worker was hired.
Since that time, the program - still governed primarily by Morningside Gardens residents - has assisted and enriched the lives of hundreds of older residents. Working side-by-side with the professional staff, over one hundred volunteers offer their time and expertise to MRHS.
- Joanna Stolove
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