To encapsulate the career of Georgiana Wolfson in a few hundred words would not do justice to how much this Oceanside has accomplished in 66 years from working as a dental assistant to executive director of the Center for Adult Life Enrichment in Hewlett.
Wolfson embarked on her journey at 17, heading into New York City where she lived until 35. Then she commuted into Manhattan, and when life’s pulls pushed her, she returned to work on Long Island.
After being the major budgeter and creator of programs, services and activities for the past 18 years at what was once the Five Towns Senior Center and is now known as CALE, Wolfson has retired. She will be a consultant until the end of the year. A replacement is still being sought.
“I enjoyed the relationships and no two days are alike, every day is an adventure,” Wolfson said, sitting in the center’s reading room.
CALE, now in its 69th year, aims to “enhance the dignity of older adults of diverse backgrounds, by promoting, sponsoring and coordinating programs that physically and intellectually maintain and continue to develop their quality of life,” according to its mission statement for its roughly 280 members who live in resident the Five Towns and several surrounding communities. (Full disclosure: I am on the board of directors.)
"Georgiana was the consummate director," said board member Irene Levy. "She really cared about everyone and remembered the needs of all. On very little money she managed to present a variety of upscale programs to enrich us , mind and body. No matter how stressful the situation, like moving from one locale to another, she always kept her cool.
"My husband, Seymour, worked on many promotional projects with her through the years and he always felt she was a pleasure to work with. Her personality and perseverance have kept this center going for 18 years. That's a big deal. She will be missed, and we wish her good health and good luck. Well deserved."
A real estate agent in Manhattan, Wolfson felt the brunt of a market downturn in 1980. She responded to a help wanted ad in The New York Times for people with real estate experience to work on a community development project working out of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The project focused on uncovering the problems facing seniors. As the director of St. Pat’s Our Neighbors Outreach Program for 18 years she managed a staff of 300 — 250 employees and roughly 50 volunteers. In five of those years she earned a master’s degree in human service admiration, attending classes at night and on Saturdays.
Through her master’s internships, Wolfson was offered a position to manage several centers. It required considerable travel. Because of family responsibilities, she decided to step down, but not stop working. Turning to the NYT, again, she saw the ad for the Five Towns Senior Center executive director position.
Board member Helen Pollack said she was always impressed with Wolfson. “Through the years she has created wonderful programs,” the Cedarhurst resident said.
Since 2010, the center which is sponsored by the National Council of Jewish Woman-Peninsula Section and Community Chest South Shore, has been headquartered in the carriage house on what was the Hewlett estate and now the Hewlett High School campus.
“What I’m most proud of is I feel I have made this a home away from home for all our members,” Wolfson said, about CALE. “It’s a place where they feel needed. I ask people to do things. They are really invested in the choices we have.”
“I believe that Georgiana was an invaluable asset to the center,” Board President Richard Braverman said. “Her energy and her devotion to the older population was exemplary, and she performed at the highest level. She provided a warm and caring environment for the senior citizens of our community, and she will be sorely missed.”