May. 19, 2023 By Carlotta Mohamed
Members at the CenterLight PACE Flushing Day Health Center hosted a special celebration on Wednesday, May 17, for a couple who has been participants at the facility for over 12 years.
Dominican immigrants Juana, 82, and Santiago Urena, 102, celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary with traditional Dominican food, cake and live entertainment at the center, located at 136-65 37th Ave. The Urenas were joined by family and CenterLight PACE’s executive team members and the therapeutic recreation team.
The couple sat at the front of the room in the style of a traditional wedding and they were joined by their family and spent the celebration dancing to exhaustion.
Before lunch, the couple played a not-so-newlywed game where they answered questions about each other. While Santiago is the first to fall asleep, Juana is the first to wake up in the morning. In their relationship, Santiago is more organized and likes to spend money, and was the first to say ‘I love you’ and gave the first kiss.
The Urenas were married on March 17, 1952, in the Dominican Republic. After having seven children, they immigrated to Queens in 1996 with five of their children. The couple now has 24 grandchildren and 26 great-grandchildren.
Juana and Santiago have been CenterLight PACE participants since 2011 and have made many friends at the DHC over the last 12 years.
Juana lost her eyesight when she was 45 years old, however, she learned to crochet at the DHC and has been creating hats, scarves, and bags for her grandchildren ever since. A woman of strong faith, Juana says that learning to crochet was a great blessing to her, not that she finds it therapeutic and reduces anxiety.
In the 12 years the Urenas have been at the center, Juana said they don’t have a single bad thing to say about the staff members and they have been treated wonderfully.
CenterLight’s Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) empowers adults aged 55 years and older to continue to live independently in their homes and communities.
With 11 locations throughout New York, the program serves participants from a wide range of backgrounds, including Arabic, Albanian, Bengali, Chinese, Creole, English, Korean, Hindi, Punjabi, Russian and Spanish.
CenterLight PACE develops individualized care plans, which are carried out by a dedicated interdisciplinary team (IDT) that includes but is not limited to doctors, nurses, physical therapists, nutritionists, recreational therapists, and other professionals working together to provide care as unique as the richly diverse participants enrolled in the plan.
Additional reporting by Paul Frangipane