Tony Danza Spends Thanksgiving Day with Encore Seniors

Encore Community Services has been providing care and service to the elderly of the Clinton/Times Square/Midtown communities for 43 years. Encore was founded in 1977 by Father George Moore, the pastor of St. Malachy’s Church. He, along with Sisters Elizabeth Hasslet and Lillian McNamara, and members of the Broadway community (including The Shubert Organization, Sardi’s and the theatrical unions) turned the old Actor’s Chapel in the basement of St. Malachy’s into the Encore Senior Center, where it still thrives today.

Encore Senior Center at St. Malachy’s. Photo by Lia Chang
Encore Senior Center at St. Malachy’s. Photo by Lia Chang

On Thanksgiving Day, the Encore Senior Center was transformed into a festive holiday dining hall with Sergio Reyes on Violin and Emilio Teubal on piano.

Sergio Reyes on Violin and Emilio Teubal on piano. Photo by Lia Chang

An army of Encore and City Meals volunteers were on hand to serve the Encore seniors turkey dinners with all the trimmings, generously donated by St. Francis Food Pantries and Shelters and City Meals on Wheels.

Encore and City Meals volunteers. Photo by Lia Chang

Seniors were surprised by television and Broadway star Tony Danza, who spent the morning of the first seating serving string beans in the kitchen and then mingling with the seniors while they enjoyed their meals in the dining hall.

Tony Danza was one of the volunteers for Encore’s Thanksgiving day for seniors. Photo by Lia Chang
Tony Danza was one of the volunteers for Encore’s Thanksgiving day for seniors at St. Malachy’s in New York. Photo by Lia Chang
Tony Danza was one of the volunteers for Encore’s Thanksgiving day for seniors. Photo by Lia Chang
Joseph Sano, Managing Director, St. Francis Food Pantries and Shelter with Tony Danza. Photo by Lia Chang
Tony Danza, Gigi Verkaik and Joseph Sano, Managing Director, St. Francis Food Pantries and Shelter. Photo by Lia Chang
Tony Danza with Encore seniors. Photo by Lia Chang
Tony Danza with Encore seniors. Photo by Lia Chang

With home delivered meals and over the course of two seatings, roughly 600 meals were served on Thanksgiving. 800 Thanksgiving meals were delivered on Wednesday to homebound seniors.

Thanksgiving Day at Encore Senior Center at St. Malachy’s in New York. Photo by Lia Chang
Thanksgiving Day at Encore Senior Center at St. Malachy’s in New York. Photo by Lia Chang
Thanksgiving Day at Encore Senior Center at St. Malachy’s in New York. Photo by Lia Chang

Homebound seniors over the age of 60 living within the boundaries of 14th to 110th Street, from 5th Avenue to the Hudson River, are eligible for this program. The Center serves breakfast and lunch for 200 seniors each day and approximately 1600 hot meals are delivered for frail and homebound seniors who are unable to attend the Center,  as part of Encore’s Home Delivered Meals Program. Over the course of the year, over 400,000 or close to half a million meals are provided for Encore seniors.

Rev. John Frasier, Pastor of St. Malachy gives a Thanksgiving blessing. Photo by Lia Chang

Father Moore was a dynamic and charismatic leader, a tireless champion for the homeless and elderly, as well as an integral part of the Broadway community. He received an honorary Tony-Award posthumously (in 1991), for his visionary work, his dedication to the arts and his commitment to the people of the Times Square, Hell’s Kitchen and Broadway communities.

Encore Community Center’s Gigi Verkaik, Judy Castillo, Hector Arias, Jose Lewis Sanchez. Photo by Lia Chang
The kitchen staff. Photo by Lia Chang
Tony Danza with Encore seniors. Photo by Lia Chang
Encore Board member Robert Score serves up Thanksgiving meals. Photo by Lia Chang
Tony Danza and the kitchen staff. Photo by Lia Chang
Tony Danza and the Encore and City Meals volunteers. Photo by Lia Chang
Encore Board member Bobby Score, Tony Danza and Joe Valentino, Trustee of Local 1. Photo by Lia Chang
Sister Peggy and an Encore senior. Photo by Lia Chang

The mission of Encore Community Services is to provide care and service to any elderly person who needs us; to assist those who are vulnerable and frail, poor and homeless, homebound and lonely, frequently-desperate, most-often ignored; to help them with their daily needs so that they might live as independently as possible, with dignity and decency, in a non-institutional manner, in a safe and caring environment. We believe we are all part of the human family and have an obligation to love one another. By nurturing, respecting and enabling, Encore hopes to improve the quality of an older person’s life, using an approach that emanates from the core of Encore’s commitment: We believe that what we do comes from the heart, and the heart is the center of all. www.encorenyc.org

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2019 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com

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