For the past six years Horace Mann School students have been part of the lives of dozens of older people living in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. Through the School’s Center for Community Values and Action (CCVA) and its Service-Learning teams, HM has developed a powerful partnership with Riverdale Senior Services (RSS), as students engage in a vibrant exchange with participants in RSS programs. From their weekly HM student-initiated discussion groups on literature, art and history, to their classes in gardening, music and art, the seniors and teens enjoy an invigorating relationship throughout the school year.
Horace Mann School was thus the perfect host for the organization’s annual “Solstice Celebration” which, this year, also marked the rebranding of the agency from “Riverdale Senior Services” which is entering its 45th year of service, to “RSS, The Center for Ageless Living.” As guests from throughout HM’s neighboring Bronx community entered the School’s Cohen Dining Commons on the beautiful evening of June 20, 2018 they were greeted by poster-kiosks describing the many programs to assist seniors achieve health and wellness, participate in exercise, arts and educational initiatives, access counseling, overcome isolation, as well as programs providing day activities for adults with early memory loss, support for caregivers, and many more activities and resources. Several posters underlined RSS’ Vision Statement of being “a non-profit agency that champions older adults and their friends and families through (our) wellness approach, and in every aspect of operations and facilities.” Also highlighted was the RSS emphasis on “ageless living” through the David Bowie quote: “Aging is a process where you become the person you were always meant to be.”
RSS Board members, administrators and staff, honorees and guests enjoyed hors d’oeuvres, drinks, dinner and warm conversation, as HM alum Stephanie Chou ’05 and her jazz ensemble, the Stephanie Chou Project, entertained with jazz classics. Horace Mann Head of School Dr. Tom Kelly, who is also on the RSS Board, welcomed the guests, and described how deeply connected HM is with the organization through the partnership developed with the CCVA, and through many personal connections. Heralding the new direction for RSS and the vital role the organization plays in the community, Dr. Kelly encouraged guests to participate in the auction and fundraising events of the evening. Honored at the 44th Anniversary Solstice Celebration event were Carlos Beato, former CEO of Schervier-Bon Secours who was instrumental in securing funds for a major renovation of RSS facilities. Also honored was Julia Schwartz-Leper, RSS Executive Director for the past 12 years, with whom the CCVA first connected, and initiated its program of student-led afternoon workshops.