Her mother was still dancing at discos when she was 90 years old, and Frances Schwartz plans to do the same.
There is certainly no Brooklyn grass growing under her feet in this “Funky Town,” where there’s always cause for “Celebration.”
Born and raised in the Coney Island-Brighton Beach area, she still lives there, doing whatever she can to enhance the lives of others. She belongs to the Mill Basin Civic and the Marine Park Civic Associations. She volunteers for the 61st Community Council, and has a leadership role with the Shorefront Y Council of Aging Program.
Once a month, this Woman of Distinction attends meetings at Borough Hall to learn the latest information on topics that affect seniors — affordable housing, Medicare, food stamps, health care, scams they should be aware of — and she disseminates this news to her peers.
Schwartz can always be counted on to advocate for seniors. She likes to play tennis, but many of her friends on fixed incomes could not afford to do so, as the Parks Department was charging $200 to use city-run courts. This was unacceptable to her, so she led a successful campaign to get the fees lowered. Today, seniors pay $20, a reasonable price that allows many more to enjoy the sport.
That wasn’t the first time Schwartz has taken on City Hall. A few years ago, she tackled the Department of Transportation when, “Neighbors came to me, and said, ‘We have a problem.’ ’’ The cost of parking at the municipal parking lot on Brighton Second Street was going to increase. Galvanizing the community, she got them to sign petitions. They made phone calls. It took time and effort, but eventually, she says, “I got the cost to stay the same.”
She worked for Mutual of New York Insurance for more than 20 years, and now, at age 73, Schwartz refers to herself as “a young senior.” She is there when local organizations host Halloween parties for kids. Likewise, she can be counted on to do “anything and everything” at community events held throughout the area, including National Night Out, where she greets seniors and dishes out the hot dogs and soda.
Pat Singer, founder and executive director of the Brighton Neighborhood Association, nominated Schwartz to be a Woman of Distinction.
“Fran has been active in the shorefront area for 30 years,” Singer says. “She gives the community the greatest gift: her time and energy. She steps up every time there is a need.”
When she isn’t advocating or volunteering, Schwartz keeps busy at “six or seven” senior centers throughout the borough. She is a member of two Democratic Clubs — one in Coney Island and another on Kings Highway. She drives, and when others do not, she is there to help get their grocery shopping done.
If the people she helps were asked to name a disco tune to describe what Frances Schwartz means to them, they might mention Tavares’ “Heaven Must be Missing An Angel.”
Neighborhood: Brighton Beach.
Occupation: Community activist and volunteer.
Claim to Fame: Doing what it takes to enhance the lives of Brooklyn seniors.
Favorite Brooklyn Place: Brighton Beach. It’s where I live, and where all my friends are.
Woman I Admire: My mother, Jessie Schwartz. She always inspired me to help others, and would be very proud of me.
Motto: Be good to everyone.
©2017 Community News Group
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