Updated: Jul 16
Geoffrey Cohen is one of the most active participants in Bay Ridge Center’s virtual programming. He got involved with BRC programs in the fall of 2019 when he happened to walk by the Bay Ridge CONNECTS storefront and stopped in to see what was going on. The technology and smartphone classes attracted him right away, and he has been a regular participant (and helpful one too) in those classes ever since. His previous computer courses had been as a high school and college student when keypunch cards were considered high-tech!
Geoffrey was born in Brooklyn and, aside for one year in Florida as a child, he has lived in Brooklyn all his life — from Crown Heights to Flatbush to Brighton Beach and on to decades in Bay Ridge. He has a sister who lives in New Jersey, so they see each other occasionally (when not in pandemic times). Geoffrey graduated from Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, back when it was located on East 15th Street and was just going co-ed after years as an all-boys’ school. He went on to get his BA in economics from Brooklyn College and made a career as a compliance specialist in brokerage and finance.
After retiring about four years ago, he had more time to pursue his first passion, Broadway shows. Favorites include Hadestown and A Chorus Line, and, for those less inclined to head to Manhattan, Geoffrey recommends Brooklyn’s own Gallery Players, a small theater group in Park Slope where he saw an excellent production of Cabaret before the pandemic shut theaters down. One memorable theater experience was enjoying all 8½ hours of the play The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby on Broadway in the 1980s. Another tip for those intimidated by the price of a theater ticket is to check out the website Broadway for Broke People or join Theatre Development Fund for lower priced tickets.
The pandemic has been an interesting time for Geoffrey. He describes himself as an introvert, especially since his teen years when he developed a neurological disorder/condition called neurofibromatosis (NF, ctf.org) that causes skin tumors. For a shy person who spent much time alone, the pandemic has ended up benefiting Geoffrey with an unexpected social life through the many virtual programs offered by Bay Ridge Center. He started with the tech programs but has branched out and participates in games, health presentations with the nursing students (St. Francis students were particularly good), reading plays with Stuart Harris, various discussion groups, and Broadway Show Tunes with Concerts in Motion. In all cases he has found the instructors and facilitators to be very good. As someone who likes to keep up with neighborhood issues, the shift to virtual meetings by Community Board 10 and other local agencies has also helped him be more involved locally.
Now that we are coming out of the months of isolation, Geoffrey expects to attend some programs at CONNECTS and meet fellow participants in person. Look for him there, at a Broadway show, or on your screen too.
By Ruth Benn from a July 2021 interview with Geoffrey Cohen.