Beating cancer with bingo
Seniors come in rain, snow, sleet to local games
by Joseph Passantino
Reporter staff writer
May 19, 2013 | 4529 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
LISTENING INTENTLY – More than 70 township residents listen for the lucky numbers they hope will lead them to “Bingo.”
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0-67! N-45! 0-53! G57! I-30!

North Bergen resident Josephine Baird listened closely to the ball numbers being called out as she hovered over the eight bingo boards in front of her, deftly placing markers to note which numbers matched hers.

For Baird, a resident for 40 years, this was a great day of recreation. And luckily for her, there are seven such games a month.

The bingo games are held weekly on Mondays, every other Wednesday, and the first Friday of each month at the Nutrition Center on 45th Street. They draw upwards of 70 residents. And they are a love fest for all involved, according to attendees and staff.

“The people here are the nicest you could ever meet,” said Baird. “They’re nice to talk to.”

This is an especially appreciated event for the senior, since she is slowed by a walking disability. A township bus takes her to and from the center each time, simplifying a 35-block trip. Transportation is supplied for all the seniors who seek it.

Carmen Esposito of Newkirk Avenue, soon to be 73, had equal praise for the township-sponsored event.

“I get lunch, the 50/50s and win once in a while with the bingo games,” she said. “It’s nice coming out. You have fun. You meet nice people; you get out of the house and enjoy yourself a bit.”

Asked what she would be doing if not at the bingo, she said, “I’d be sitting at home and on my computer.”
“I’d be sitting at home and on my computer.” – Carmen Esposito
Marta Zapoznicoff, 72, of Grand Avenue takes a more holistic approach to the games. The 50-year township resident is recovering from cancer.

“I have so much pain, I come here and forget about it,” she said. “This is the best place on earth. When I come here I forget about everything.”

Zapoznicoff formerly lived on the block where the facility is located. Center staff went as far as helping the widow with donations of household items for the place where she now lives.

That program’s sole purpose is to bring activity to the mostly retired population, according to Melody Acosta, Nutrition Center supervisor. The township does not make money off of bingo, she said, charging only a $1 a board and only a $1.75 suggested donation for lunch, for those who choose it.

“It’s a day out they can mingle with friends,” Acosta said. “A lot of them tell me if they didn’t have this, they don’t know what they’d do. When it rains they still come; even when it snows.”


For Gilda Saladrigas of North Bergen, the bingo caller and cook, the games are cathartic as well as enjoyable for her.

“It’s the greatest feeling to see the people getting better every day,” she said, referring to some of the attending seniors getting over illnesses. “It is uplifting. They give me a lot of energy.”

The township offers many activities for seniors, including “chair aerobics” and Tai Chi classes. In addition, the township sponsors trips to casinos in Connecticut and New York, as well as to local shopping centers and restaurants.

For information on senior events, call 201-866-8791.

Joseph Passantino may be reached at

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