Meet Olga R., a BronxWorks Older Adult

A woman stands behind a Bingo cage and in front of the BronxWorks logo. She is smiling.

Olga R., a grandmother of four and a great-grandmother of six, is a frequent visitor and beloved member of our Heights Older Adult Center, going back as early as 2009. She loves to dance, talk with her friends, do art projects, read, and play BINGO!

A woman sits in front of four dolls and smiles.
Olga R. in 2011 at a Heights Older Adult Center event.
Women stand in a room decorated like a party. Many have leis or flower crowns on.
Olga R. (second from left), BronxWorks Department Director for Older Adult Services Maria Rivera (third from left), and other seniors at an Older Adult Center party in 2018.

In 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, all older adult centers across the Bronx closed. As the centers remained closed, she said, “It was horrible. I felt kidnapped in my own house and I lost mobility.”

The elderly population was among the most heavily affected by the pandemic. Olga recalled, “I had to do my errands alone, like going to the supermarket, looking for medicines at the pharmacy, going to medical appointments. Having to go out scared me a lot, but above all I missed everything I could do in the center. Not being able to go to the center during the pandemic affected me a lot because the center is my only source of entertainment and where I can do different programs that keep me active.” Even after things started to open up, Olga was reluctant to return to the center, isolating herself despite being incredibly active prior to the pandemic.

Four women sit around a table playing BINGO.
Olga R. (right) participating in Bingocize with other Older Adult Center members.

In 2023, BronxWorks began the Bingocize program. Bingocize is an evidence-based health management program for seniors, based on playing the famous BINGO game beloved by so many while doing easy exercises for the elderly. The program lasted ten weeks. All the seniors who participated at the Heights Bingocize class received certificates of completion at the conclusion of the class.

A woman hands another woman a certificate.
Olga R. (right) receives her Bingocize certificate of completion from BronxWorks Program Specialist Ana Peralta.

Olga said of Bingocize, “I have always liked playing BINGO, and combining it with exercises is a great idea. I like that we do exercises and at the same time we play and win prizes. In my case, doing this program helped me feel better physically, and I had a lot of fun. My legs feel stronger and I feel like I can walk faster without getting tired quickly.”

Multiple people stand by their chairs and do light exercise.
Olga R. (far right) and other seniors exercise during Bingocize.

With a newfound interest and fun program to look forward to, Olga is now back to being one of the more active members of the older adult center! In addition to Bingocize, Olga could be found this year handing out flower ribbons at an event recognizing International Women’s Day and dancing with her friends at the end-of-summer senior trip.

A woman pins a flowered pin on another woman's lapel.
Olga R. (left) pins a homemade flowered pin on another woman at an International Women’s Day Celebration at BronxWorks Morris Older Adult Center in 2023.

“I have my freedom back,” Olga said. “I do many more activities than before and every day I wake up motivated to go to the center and share with others.”

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