The Birches at Esopus
February 13, 2012
Residents of The Birches at Esopus celebrated Valentine’s Day in style with a delectable brunch of homemade treats, plenty of smiling faces and friendly hugs from a special guest. The Community Room was decked out in style for the event, which was organized by the residents of this premier affordable senior housing community which overlooks the Hudson River.
Steve and Judy Aaron, who are responsible for this Birchez Associates community, praised those responsible for organizing the event, while delighting in the diversity of the scrumptious spread.Longtime Valentines Bill and MaryAnn Banks, happily married for 35 years, spoke lovingly about the changes in their lifestyle since joining the Birches community and of the many activities and amenities offered at the facility. One of MaryAnn’s choices is the bus that comes to the door and takes her for excursions at the Mall (especially when Bill’s working or watching a game!). Spry and chic, the 91 year-young Shirley Shumate looked positively captivating in her red Valentine dress. For some seniors keeping in shape comes naturally, but many take advantage of the Fitness Studio, complete with instructor at no charge, at The Birches at Esopus.
Eileen McGuire, pictured with Shirley in the picture to the left, is president of the Residents Club at this award-winning facility.
Roseann Harominek spoke glowingly of her new life at the Birches at Esopus – as shown in the picture below, her smile speaks volumes. Many who attended were in their late 80s and 90s, fitting tribute to the aging in place philosophy of The Birches at Esopus and other Birchez Associates communities in the Hudson Valley.
Seniors give to other Seniors
For the last several weeks, a dedicated group of crafters at The Birches at Esopus have handcrafted some two hundred Valentine’s Day cards. And where have they directed Cupid’s arrows? The Golden Hill Health Care Center, Ulster County’s nursing home, located off the Boulevard in Kingston. Started 65 years ago, Golden Hill provides both rehabilitation services and long-term health care.
A range of materials were creatively incorporated in these one of kind cards. Ribbons, jewels, doilies, wallpaper, whatever these clever crafters had at hand. Designs varied from whimsical to modern, something for everyone’s tastes.
According to Crafts Club member Marie Shultis, this is the third year the Esopus seniors have created Valentine’s Day cards for the seniors at Golden Hill. “If we had one thing to do over, we would have started earlier,” she said. But with a new target of 200 cards this year, their highest to date, they made it with a few days to spare.
On Friday, February 10th, a contingent of the crafters met with a few residents of Golden Hill to present the cards. The intent is that the cards could be used to brighten the resident’s room or to give to a loved one.
As The Birches at Esopus group chatted with the residents, there was some sharing of techniques and materials used. Marie Shultis talked about some exacting measurements used in various crafts to make sure the results look as best as possible. Looking at the results, one might even say professional!
(More text below photos.)
The Crafts Clubs keep busy year ’round at both The Birches at Esopus and The Birches at Chambers. Chambers has had two annual collaborative events knitting hats for children with cancer.
At Esopus, the crafts room has shown off holiday gifts ranging from cards, kissing balls, knitted scarves and hats, and at this time of year, lots of red cards.
Every now and then the public gets a chance to check out the crafts at The Birches at Esopus. Last year, during the Town of Esopus Fall Festival, the tour bus made a stop at this senior affordable community so interested purchasers could browse the Crafts Club’s creations. We’ll let you know when the seniors have newly created crafts to share.
Thanks to the generosity of community supporters, Kingston NY area seniors danced the night away waiting for the 2012 ball to drop. The annual New Year’s Eve event was held at The Hillside Manor, a leading fine dining and events facility. Host Denni Demosthenes managed to get all guests to the table despite the many attendees who arrived up to an hour early! Over 350 seniors attended and enjoyed a full dinner and dessert, dancing to both live and DJ’d music, a champagne toast and, of course, New Year’s hats and noisemakers. The music makers mixed it up with the predictable old favorites and many contemporary hits that got everyone on the floor rocking.
For the third year, the main sponsors were Birchez Associates, the Bruderhof, and the Demonthenes family which owns The Hillside Manor. Other local purveyors also helped out. For example, Adams Fair Acres Farms donated beautifully prepared (and delicious) cookie platters for each table, Deisings Bakery provided the dinner rolls.
The smiles of the seniors were evident at the festively set tables in both the full rear ballroom and the restaurants front function room. Not to be outdone by the decor, many of the ladies were “dressed to the nines.” As one quipped, “Where else am I going to get the opportunity to get so dressed up. I love it!” Join the festivities via video (only a minute and a half in length) in which Birchez principals Steve and Judy Aaron welcome one and all.
Several political leaders stopped by to lend their support, most notably Congressman Maurice Hinchey who greeted many by name. Outgoing legislator Walter Frey and encumbent councilman Jimmy Bruno traveled from Saugerties. Majority Leader for the Kingston Common Council Tom Hoffay was in early attendance. Newly elected Alderperson Deb Brown, 9th ward Kingston, shared her thoughts on the video.
Seniors who attended and who would like to comment on the evening can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to share your thoughts as we enter 2012!
Holidays can be lonely for seniors living on their own. But at the Birchez Associates communities, you’ll find many ways to celebrate the holidays. In addition to cosponsoring the Kingston area senior New Year’s Eve party (to watch video, click here), Birchez owners Steve and Judy Aaron also hosted a holiday party for all their senior residents and staff.
At The Hillside Manor, a popular dining and events destination in Kingston, Birchez took over . A decorated Christmas tree welcomed guests in the foyer, with holiday decoration throughout. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres started the event in the front ballroom. Then festivities moved to the full back ballroom (complete with its own Christmas tree and Menorah) for dinner and dancing.
Special guests included Congressman Maurice Hinchey who spun at least one senior on the dancefloor. County Treasurer Eliott Auerbach and his lovely wife Judy, County Clerk Nina Postupak, County Legislators Peter Loughran, Hector Rodriguez and Walter Frey, as well as Town of Esopus Council members Kyle Barnett, Gloria VanVliet and Donna McAuley also joined the party.
The band leader of “Outside the Box” thought he was doing the right thing when he mentioned a 92 year old resident was on the dance floor, only to have other dancers raise their hands to say “I’m in my nineties too!” From the salad course through desert, the dance floor was in motion. Whether a classic melody or a cover of a contemporary song from Lady GaGa or Adele, guests were up and dancing. Chambers Court Resident and Centenarian Bill McDonough didn’t dance but had a front row table to watch others do so.
Pointsetta centerpieces obtained through the local Boys & Girls Club were given to those residents who found a lucky penny underneath their place setting. In addition to peach melba for desert, plates of cookies from local Deising’s Bakery provided some extra energy for seniors to keep the dance floor full.
And for residents who no longer drive, A.N.N. Transportation provided a handicapped bus and van to get everyone to the event. After four hours of partying, there was even some grumbling when the announcement was made that the bus and van were ready for loading to take residents home. “Already?” some were heard to exclaim!
For additional pictures, see Holiday Party album on Facebook
At the recent annual conference for the New York State Association for Affordable Housing (NYSAFAH), a panel on senior housing featured Birchez Associates. Speaking for Birchez were Founder & Managing Member Steven L. Aaron and Director of Marketing, K.J. McIntyre. Known to provide market rate plus services and amenities at affordable rents for seniors, Birchez Associates has built and manages four affordable senior communities in the Hudson Valley, as well as one workforce affordable community.
Entitled Serving Seniors: Innovative Ideas and Opportunities, the panel was chaired by Peter Florey of D&F Development. In addition to the Birchez representatives, the panel included Ken Harris of the NY Association of Housing & Services for the Aging, Evelyn Wolff of Selfhelp Community Services, Julie Behrens of the NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development, and Stuart Zalka representing NYS Homes & Community Renewal.
Among services and amenities provided for residents, Birchez Associates employs a Senior Advocate, Alice Tipp, who had served for 30 years in the Ulster County Legislature and chaired the Health Services Committee. Ms. Tipp provides a knowledgable bridge to resources and services in the greater community. At residents’ meetings, she frequently invites service providers to meet with the residents. Augmenting the advocacy team is the Director of Community Services, Paul Watzka.
Working with agencies such as the Ulster County Office for the Aging and Jewish Family Services, Birchez has brought services to the doorstep. Both physical and mental health issues are attended to at the Birchez Communities. This spring a mental health social worker was on hand to meet with seniors dealing with issues such as bereavement and depression and to recommend longer term services available often at no cost to the senior. One result of this has been the formation of a weekly group at The Birches at Chambers.
Physical health is improved at the Fitness Studios available at both The Birches at Chambers and The Birches at Esopus (although open to all Birchez residents). Here a specially trained senior fitness coach is available at no cost to work out at the residents ability and speed.
Augmenting amenities include Media Centers with state of the art projection and sound for the latest Indie or Classic film. Community rooms encourage gatherings, the library/game room to meet with friends, and a computer lab for instruction and free use.
The crafts room allows seniors to show off crafting ability and to learn new ones. A team of knitters created nearly 100 caps for young children this past winter at both the local neighborhood center and Sloan Kettering Cancer Hospital. Among the participants were three male seniors, two of whom were in wheelchairs. None of them had ever knitted before but they took to the project with zeal.
Steven L. Aaron, Founder & Managing Member of Birchez Associates LLC, is a board member of NYSAFAH. Birchez Associates was a Gold Sponsor for the annual conference held in New York City each spring. Birchez Associates LLC, founded in 2002, has built five affordable housing communities in the Hudson Valley.
The New York State Association for Affordable Housing (NYSAFAH), formed in 1998, the New York State Association for Affordable Housing (NYSAFAH) is the trade association for New York’s affordable housing industry statewide. Our 300 members include for-profit and nonprofit developers, lenders, investors, syndicators, attorneys, architects and others active in the financing, construction, and operation of affordable housing. Together, NYSAFAH’s members are responsible for virtually all of the housing built in New York State with federal, state, or local subsidies. is the trade association for New York’s affordable housing industry statewide. Our 300 members include for-profit and nonprofit developers, lenders, investors, syndicators, attorneys, architects and others active in the financing, construction, and operation of affordable housing. Together, NYSAFAH’s members are responsible for virtually all of the housing built in New York State with federal, state, or local subsidies.
The Esopus Business Alliance (EBA), formed just two years ago, supports local businesses that both operate within Esopus or those outside Esopus which support the local community. Among these is The Birches at Esopus which has hosted a networking mixer for the membership.
Now the EBA is holding its second annual celebration with a picnic mixer on June 27th from 5:30 to 7:30 on the majestic lawns of the Hudson Valley School of Massage overlooking the Hudson River. Locate at 1723 Route 9W, West Park, the school is directly across from the Stonehedge Restaurant.
Come on out for a special evening. Live (and lively) music features Earl Pardini and his group. Complimentary picnic style refreshments, lawn games, chair massages and mini-facials by the H.V.S.M.T. staff, and a champagne toast to celebrate EBA’s incredible first two years. Non-members and guests are welcome. There will be a $5 per person fee for members and an $8 fee for non-members, payable at the event.
This is a rain or shine event as indoor space will be available if needed. Registration is a must. Birches at Esopus residents who would like to attend, please call K.J. McIntyre at 845-532-7528 or email her at email@example.com so we may add you to the guest list. Sounds like a fun event!
New York, NY: The New York State Association for Affordable Housing (NYSAFAH) honored Birchez Associates’ affordable senior community, The Birches at Esopus, as Case Study in Excellence at a reception and presentation held in New York City at the REBNY (Real Estate Board of New York) headquarters.
Already recognized by NYSAFAH as Project of the Year — Upstate for 2010, The Birches at Esopus served as a case study in successful public and private partnership, innovative financing, and green energy efficiencies. At its ribbon cutting, the community was also acknowledged as an Energy $mart Building by NYSERDA, in part because 70% of domestic hot water and 30% of the heat comes from solar thermal panels. Further, The Birches at Esopus was one of four national finalists for Senior Project of the Year in Affordable Housing Magazine.
The panel (shown to the right) was introduced by Jay Seiden, Seiden & Schein, PC, and comprised Birchez Associates Founder & Managing Member, Steven L. Aaron, The Honorable John Coutant, Supervisor of the Town of Esopus, John Kelly, Esq. of Nixon Peabody, Marian Zucker of New York State Homes & Community Renewal, Peter King representing the Federal Home Loan Bank – NY, and Rita Wyatt Esq., principal of Wyatt & Co. Judy Wells Aaron and K.J. McIntyre both of Birchez Associates also participated in the presentation. Available for the Q&A were the Town of Esopus clerk, Diane L. McCord, town council member Gloria VanVliet and chair of the planning board Roxanne Pecora (shown in the lower left photo from right to left).
- Finding financing for affordable housing projects and how that has changed in today’s economic market
- Creating market rate amenities to both attract residents and to fulfill aging in place goals
- Structuring a public – private partnership and the political courage it takes to succeed in bringing quality affordable housing to a community
- Changing environment in the now combined DHCR and nyhomes, now New York State Homes and Community Renewal
Attendees included developers, financiers, architects, attorneys and other members of NYSAFAH.
The Poughkeepsie Journal on April 6th covered the three-day Travel conference that focussed on the mid-Hudson River Valley as a tourist destination. Looking for ideas for The Birches at Esopus Residents’ Club was Mary Jackson, who was pictured speaking with Captain Jeffrey Pyle of Empire Cruise Lines in Poughkeepsie.
The event was sponsored by two of the region’s group travel-related companies, Hudson River Valley Tours and Destinations of New York State, and drew tour operators from as far as Ottawa, Canada. Judging from the buzz, we’ll see many of the tour operators back with full buses and boats in the not so distant future.
The Birches at Esopus is one of four affordable senior housing communities built and managed through Birchez Associates. For more information, www.Birchez.com
For the full article, click here. PS: knowing Mary, she’ll be available for autographs!
picture credit: Darryl Bautista/Poughkeepsie Journal