Our History and Background
VASCA (formerly the Voluntary Association for Senior Citizen Activities) was founded in 1959 by Iphigene Sulzberger, Rose Tishman and Helen Whitehouse Walker.
The agency, modeled on the Fresh Air Fund for children, provides scholarships for senior citizens to attend adult vacation camps located in the tri-state area. The recipients of these grants have extremely low incomes, often less than a $1,000 a month.
The vacation camps are professionally run by not-for profit organizations that provide a wide range of activities for older adults including swimming, boating, hiking, painting, sculpture and pottery, computer workshops, health and nutrition classes, current events, etc. Care is taken to ensure that programming includes both the healthy and fully ambulatory senior, as well as those confined to wheelchairs or those with low vision or other disabilities.
These therapeutic respites consist of one or two-week stays, and make an enormous difference in the quality of life for some of New York’s most isolated senior citizens. Often, this is the only time during the entire year that a recipient is able to leave the City. In addition, social services personnel at the camps frequently provide individual counseling to campers regarding medical issues, grief and bereavement and referral to other social services agencies in the City.
VASCA identifies qualified applicants by partnering with over 30 New York City senior centers and camps. Staff at these agencies make every effort to ensure that those seniors most in need are selected for scholarships. At present, VASCA is unable to accommodate all the individuals who apply for assistance.