Keeping physically active is nothing new for Gloria Forde.
In her younger years, Forde said she went ballroom dancing every weekend.
Now as a resident of New Community Orange Senior and president of the tenants association, Forde stays busy addressing the concerns of residents with management, planning events, attending outings and pursuing her own hobbies.
“I’ve had to fill in that blank with doing other stuff,” Forde, 84, said of no longer dancing. “I have always been very active.”
Serving as president of the tenants association at 132 William Street in Orange has kept her plenty busy.
Elizabeth Batista, NCC Care Coordinator at Orange Senior, describes Forde as a fair-minded leader who makes an effort to include all residents of the building. When tenants have disagreements or bring her a complaint, Forde listens and tries to help.
“She just advocates for them to come together and see what can be done. Because this is home,” Batista said of Forde, who has lived in Orange Senior since 2004. “She’s a leader that creates peace.”
Born in the parish of Christ Church in Barbados, Forde and her husband, who died in 2001, had seven children, five of whom are still living. In 1966, Forde began working in Venezuela and sent money back home to her husband, who cared for the children with the help of their eldest daughter. In 1971, Forde immigrated to the U.S. and eventually brought over her entire family because she wanted her children to receive a college education. Forde says she became a U.S. citizen in 2000 and worked as a nursing assistant at Ozanam Hall of Queens Nursing Home for 20 years.
In addition to staying physically active, Forde also works on keeping her mind sharp.She regularly does crossword puzzles, watches shows and documentaries on World War II, and reads constantly. When she previously lived in New York, Forde says she read up to two books a day on her daily commute aboard the train from Utica Avenue in Brooklyn to the Bronx.
“I would sit and get lost in a book or magazine,” said Forde, whose elegant speech belies her sixth grade education. Forde said she later tried to obtain her high school diploma but those efforts got sidelined when her husband suffered a stroke. She says her greatest pride is that all of her children went to college.
Recently Forde took a computer class at her church in East Orange, Calvary Methodist Church. Her next plan? Forde says she wants to host an international cuisine themed potluck so that residents of Orange Senior can celebrate their diversity and enjoy each other’s home cooking.
“It involves everybody and we get to know each other that way,” she said. “We do things to keep people moving.”