Caring Community director leaves; no connection to music flap cited

By Albert Amateau

Lester C. Bates, executive director since 2002 of Caring Community, which provides services for seniors in the Village and Tribeca, resigned on July 6 citing his intention to pursue graduate studies at Baruch School of Business.

Neither Bates nor Eleanor Korman, president of the Caring Community board of trustees, attributed the resignation to the protest by a group of seniors over what they considered to be Bates’ arbitrary and unjust dismissal in May of Christine Conroy as director of the Caring Community center at First Presbyterian Church.

Korman said this week that Bates’ resignation, effective July 30, had nothing to do with Conroy’s dismissal and that Conroy would not be rehired. Conroy became music director of the First Presbyterian center three years ago and director of the center there in 2002. Korman said the trustees are interviewing applicants with music backgrounds to head the First Presbyterian center at 12 W. 12th St.

Paul O’Brien, a Caring Community staff member for nine years and the agency’s director of operations, will serve as interim director until a replacement for Bates is found, Korman said. A search committee of trustees, including Lucy Cecere, a founder of Caring Community, is being formed to find a new executive director, Korman added.

Bates has also been working as a part-time consulting director for the New York City Chapter of Parents and Friends of Lesbian and Gays, or PFLAG, helping the chapter change from being run entirely by volunteers to paid professional leadership. Nila Maroni, president of the PFLAG chapter, said Bates is likely to be the first paid director of the chapter.

Bates was on vacation this week and was not available for comment.

Caring Community, founded 31 years ago, operates four senior center locations: First Presbyterian Church, Our Lady of Pompei on Carmine St. at Bleecker St., 20 Washington Sq. North and at 310 Greenwich St. in Independence Plaza in Tribeca. Caring Community also delivers meals to homebound seniors six days a week.