U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand paid a visit to the Henry Street Settlement yesterday afternoon, praising the large social service organization’s work in the community, answering questions from staff members and touring a senior center.
Gillibrand was greeted by Henry Street board members and executives, including Executive Director Verona Middleton-Jeter (who is retiring this month) and David Garza, her successor as the settlement house’s new leader.
In her remarks, Gillibrand pledged to do whatever she could to help Henry Street access additional federal funding for its varied programs. She specifically promised to advocate for more resources devoted to mental health programs. In response to a question from Garza, Gillibrand said she is working to make sure federal stimulus dollars go to support small business loans, and by extension, job creation.
Another staff member asked about the U.S. Census, currently being conducted nationwide. Gillibrand acknowledged concern that a decrease in New York’s population could lead to the loss of a Congressional seat, weakening the state’s influence in Washington. But she expressed confidence that Census officials are working hard to assure everyone is counted.
A high school senior in Henry Street’s Expanded Horizons College Prep program asked about cuts to the city’s Summer Jobs Program. Gillibrand said she’s increasingly concerned about worsening gang violence, and believes the summer jobs initiative is key to keeping kids engaged – and out of trouble. She did not, however, directly address the budget cuts.
After the question and answer session, Gillibrand (entourage in tow) visited the Good Companions Senior Center, located in the Vladeck Houses. She checked in on a group doing their afternoon exercises and shook hands with seniors sitting down for dinner. Daycare centers and senior centers have been hit particularly hard in next year’s proposed NYC budget. The Good Companions Center, however, is not affected.