Visiting Neighbors Celebrates the Timeless Talent of Seniors

Third place winner Carmen Estrada sang “Viva La Vida.” | Photo by Laura Scharf

BY LAURA SCHARF | We haven’t had many picture perfect spring days this year — but on April 28, the weather gods were smiling for Visiting Neighbors’ 24th Annual Senior Talent Show, the highlight of the Chelsea Day Festival, which ran along Eighth Ave. from W. 14th to 23rd Sts. An enthusiastic audience gathered around the stage at W. 20th St. and cheered for their favorite performers.

Jeffrey LeFrancois, 2nd Vice Chair of Community Board 4, presented the first prize to Lissa Joseph for her rendition of a song from the musical “Sunset Boulevard.” | Photo by Laura Scharf

Emcee Danny Morris welcomed the crowd, and urged the audience to show their support for the performers. VN’s Executive Director, Cynthia Maurer, greeted the audience and encouraged them to get involved with Visiting Neighbors either as clients, as volunteers, or to tell their senior neighbors that help is available as they face the challenges of aging.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer thanked Visiting Neighbors for its longstanding commitment to seniors as they struggle to stay independent. She encouraged the audience to stay physically active, and to be involved in their community. She also urged the audience to support Visiting Neighbors, reminding them that VN relies on contributions and that every dollar helps. Assemblymember Richard Gottfried, who has been a longtime supporter of VN, congratulated the organization on its 46 years of service.

An amazing array of talent kept the audience cheering for their favorites for hours. Some old favorites returned this year including Gloria Ortiz, who demonstrated her mambo skills, and Maria Correa, who danced to Bolero. Julia Piters showed off her belly dancing skills — and longtime contestant Carmen Estrada sang “Viva La Vida.” Dancers from the Chinatown Senior Citizen Center, always a crowd favorite, added Asian flavor to the show as they demonstrated some traditional Chinese dances.

The Jazzy Randolph Dancers, a jazz troupe from Harlem who participate in the show every year, always amaze the crowd. They do not compete for prizes because they are professionals, but they were awarded the Congeniality award this year for their talent, spirit, and commitment to VN and the community.

Newcomers to the show this year included Darlene Larson (who yodeled and sang “I Want to Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart”), and Angie Villaneuva’s Spanish Line Dancing Troupe.

The Jazzy Randolph Dancers are a professional troupe, and not in the running for competition — but they did take home the Congeniality award. | Photo by Laura Scharf

Another newcomer to the show, Lissa Joseph, captured first prize for her amazing rendition of “As If We Never Said Goodbye,” from the musical “Sunset Boulevard.” Second prize went to the dancers from the Chinatown Senior Citizen Center, and third prize was awarded to Carmen Estrada.

Second place went to dancers from the Chinatown Senior Citizen Center. | Photo by Laura Scharf

Laura Scharf is Director of Community Development at Visiting Neighbors, Inc. — a nonprofit organization that provides support services to help seniors stay independent. Services include friendly visiting to relieve isolation, help with shopping and errands, escorts to medical appointments, health advocacy, and referrals to needed services. VN is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. VN does not charge for services. Contributions are tax-deductible. For more information, call 212-260-6200 or visit their website:

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer urged the audience to support Visiting Neighbors, reminding them that the organization relies on contributions, and that every dollar helps. | Photo by Laura Scharf

An enthusiastic crowd gathered to cheer on the performers. | Photo by Laura Scharf

Assemblymember Richard Gottfried, a longtime supporter of Visiting Neighbors, congratulated the organization on its 46 years of service. | Photo by Laura Scharf

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