“I’m 68, but you wouldn’t believe me anyway,” Tina Kreitzman said. You could take her at her word–her fiery personality could be expected from someone 30 or 40 years younger. But Tina has had an active mind and spirit for her entire adult life and that has continued even as her recent retirement from AHRC NYC’s SEMP program has gotten underway.
“I’ve been working since I’m 17,” Tina recalled. Born and raised in Brooklyn, she has gained employment in a variety of places, from the post office to retail stores to restaurants. At times during her retail positions, she did not receive adequate support for her hearing difficulties and this led to conflict and ultimately leaving the industry. “I kept getting written up because I couldn’t hear them!” she said.
In 1999, Tina began working at AHRC NYC’s Dean O’Hare Day Center; when that facility closed, she moved to Kings Highway Day Services.
“I used to take care of the individuals, especially with their lunches,” Tina explained. “For one whole month, I helped dress and change [a person receiving services]. I’d go on community outings and help put coats on at dismissal.”
As she worked, Tina lived independently in a supported apartment. Unfortunately, a couple of years ago she fell on the subway, injuring herself. This prompted her to move to AHRC NYC’s Hirsh residence in Little Neck, NY.
“My apartment was on the second floor and I couldn’t walk up there anymore,” Tina said. “What was I supposed to do?” She has been extremely satisfied with her decision to move. “God bless [the staff] for all that they do for me. To tell you the truth, I was going to need it eventually.”
The subway accident also caused her to reflect on her longtime working habits. “I was planning on going back but public transportation was becoming more difficult. I was also afraid of getting hurt at the program.” Tina, therefore, made the decision to retire.
To keep busy, Tina has been volunteering at SNAP, a senior center not far from Hirsh. Her role is similar to what she would do in her SEMP position. “I serve lunch, put bread into bags. I bring meals over to the ones who can’t maneuver themselves.”
In her spare time, Tina likes to do word search puzzles, watch the news, and follow politics, which stems from her days as a self-advocate. She was very enthusiastic about voting in Tuesday’s election, saying “You aren’t gonna keep me away from the polls on this one!”
Tina’s restless activity even in her retirement has earned her great praise from SNAP. In September, she was given an award at a luncheon for her contributions. “I was shocked as all hell because I was not expecting that,” she said. “I was ecstatic! They spelled my last name wrong on the award but that’s beside the point.”
The award has given Tina newfound confidence. “It showed me what I could do. It gave me my self-esteem back, as my jobs did.“