The Mount Vernon community and beyond is still reeling from Emma Gruber’s unsolved murder, which has shaken the community to its core, prompting hundreds to march through the city of Mount Vernon recently in her memory.
85-year-old Emma Gruber was murdered in her home on South Sixth Avenue in Mount Vernon. CBS 2′s Maggie Ruper reported, Gruber was last seen Monday Feb 10, at her home after being dropped off from the Doles Community Center, where she attended a senior program every day. On the morning of Tuesday, the driver returned to pick Gruber up and said a mysterious man in her front yard said she wasn’t home, Ruper reported.
Mount Vernon Councilman Richard Thomas, was so moved by the crime that he immediately acted as the catalyst to help form a Senior Safety Forum in Mt. Vernon, along with Damon K. Jones, New York representative of Blacks in Law Enforcement of America.
“Ultimately, a senior’s safety in their own home should be of primary importance for our city government and the community at large,” says Jones. “All of the possible precautions that can be taken, in creating a safe environment for the senior in Mt. Vernon–should be considered and changed if necessary. Taking steps toward safety allows for our seniors to remain safe, comfortable, and offers opportunity for better quality of life in our city”
On March 14, a coalition of civic leaders, religious institutions, seniors and senior advocates packed the Conference Center at the Wartburg in Mount Vernon to attend a forum on Improving Senior Safety. The forum was created to help highlight the need for greater awareness of senior safety, especially those who are sick, shut in, or finding it difficult to make ends meet.
“We decided to put together a forum over the recent home invasion which led to the tragic murder of Emma Gruber. Her lost has sent a clarion call for the community to come together and collaborate on developing ways to keep seniors safe,” said Councilman Thomas.
The forum kicked off with welcoming comments from David Getner, President & CEO, of The Wartburg.
“When elected officials call, we always offer to help. In this case, as a key senior service provider, caring for our community’s most frail and compromised, we believe it is our responsibility to be part of a senior safety awareness discussion. The concept this morning was conceived as the result of the unconscionable death of Emma Gruber. We were all shocked and saddened to hear about the tragic end to her life,” said Getner.
Rev. Carol Fryer, Pastor of Mount Vernon’s Lutheran Church at the Wartburg, calmed the still emotionally charged seniors with a reassuring opening prayer.
Next at the podium was Councilman Thomas, the forum’s moderator, who echoed many of Getner’s comments. “I took care of my grandmother for a period of 16 years, and for some of you that don’t know the story, she was swindled out of her home in 2002. So, senior aging issues really strike a chord with me,” said Thomas.
Also in attendance was Mayor Ernest D. Davis, who spoke prior to the panelists addressing the seniors. “We have changed as a society, and not for the better. I cannot imagine in my generation not having respect for people like my grandmother. I cannot imagine anyone attacking elders who have brought us so far,” said Mayor Davis.
Each of the panelists addressed the seniors and provided excellent tips on how seniors can protect themselves against criminals, and they highlight the need for greater awareness of senior safety, especially those who are sick, shut in, or finding it difficult to make ends meet. They also provided them with brochures and their business cards at the end of the forum.
The following panelists participated:
· Jamie Fair, Assistant District Attorney, Westchester DA Office,
· Jeanne Pici, Westchester County Senior Programs and Services
. Anne Jardine, Assistant Attorney General, Office of New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman
· Claudia Fields, Westchester Adult Protective Services
· Commissioner Terrance Raynor, Mount Vernon Police Department
· Pat Anderson, Outreach and Emergency Management Director, United Way’s 211 Hudson Valley Region
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