Taking to the Streets, Cane in Hand

| 17 Feb 2015 | 05:07

A protest on the Upper West Side to re-instate the head of a senior center Recently, on one of the coldest days of the year, a group of senior citizens on the Upper West Side ? some of them in walkers ? took to the street in protest. The unusual scene, which drew the attention of passersby, was in response to the firing of Wendy Golub, who had been director of senior services at the Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center at 65th Street and Amsterdam Ave., where many of the protesters spend time. "She took care of the seniors really well," said resident Lucille Jordan. Golub was remembered for a multitude of jobs, including keeping seniors informed, taking care of their relatives, celebrating birthdays and speaking Spanish to people who know no English. "Some seniors have no one to talk to," said Rita Johnson. "Now they don't speak."

While the protesters have asked for Golub to be reinstated, the center has so far refused to budge. Mary Mullhill, director of the center, said Golub was let go for cause, but declined to elaborate.

And, she downplayed the reaction to the firing. "There were eight seniors," said Mullhill, referring to the protest. "About eight seniors were upset about it. Other people have been dismissed and nothing has happened."

After Golub's dismissal, a memo was sent out to the LSNC community in hopes of discouraging any further actions from its residents.

"Ms. Golub was let go with cause and that is all the administration is at liberty to say," read the memo, which was provided to The West Side Spirit.

"The unfortunate result of this action is a threat from a few members of the community to go to the press with claims of mismanagement of the Center, among other falsehoods.

"The LSNC staff has informed those community members that untrue, unfavorable press will hurt the Center as funders will not be willing to support LSNC if it appears to be unstable.

"The members of the community supporting this action do not care if the Center closes. Despite the rumors, the LSNC staff has worked tirelessly to establish relationships with private funders to acquire more than $300,000 for the Center, all of which would have to be returned in the event of closure leaving the LSNC community without affordable childcare, after-school programming and Senior Services-no exceptions-not to mention the fact that such action would make the Center very undesirable to future funders leaving the future of the Center on very shaky ground for the foreseeable future."

Despite the memo, David Jaffey, a LSNC Board Member, said "the center is in no danger of being shut down."

"I understand that the seniors are upset," said Jaffey. "I can appreciate that on a human level. We've listened to their concerns, but the reality is the decision can't be changed. If we spend too much time on it, it will hurt our ability to raise funds."

While the LSNC facility won't say why Golub was fired, and the seniors aren't sure, Golub herself said she doesn't know either.

"I had never received any warning that my employment was in jeopardy," said Golub. "I was not given a reason at the time."

For six years, Golub worked in the Amsterdam Houses and Amsterdam Addition at the LSNC, overseeing the health, mental health, education, recreation and nutritional services for adults 60 and older.

"As a social worker, I had seen and helped the seniors through difficult as well as good times," said Golub.

"We had shared birthdays and holidays and grieved for those whom we had lost. It is hard to describe the loss that I felt when I was no longer an official part of this community."

Patricia Ryan, president of the Board of Directors Senior committee and an organizer of the effort, said that in the end, the center should listen to the people it serves.

"It's not what (the board) wants," said Ryan. "It's what the seniors want."