Wendell’s Council on Aging has some new faces this year. Janee Stone and Corine Baker have joined the Council, as Byron Ricketts has retired from his position. We give Byron a huge thanks for all his years of service to Wendell, especially his most recent years producing the monthly newsletter. Indeed, we have been without a newsletter since June 2018, as we work to figure out a new format, with the option of email delivery or mailed paper copy to all Wendell folk 60 and over. Janice Doubleday was hired for a trial as on-site director of the Senior Center in February, a new position, but we found that this did not significantly increase the use of the Center by seniors, so this position is not continued.
The Council continues to operate our monthly health clinic, overseen by Katie Nolan. Our Coffee Connection on first and third Fridays 8—10 am welcome all seniors to drop in for coffee or tea, home baked goods and conversation. Our medical rides program, headed by Jonathan von Ranson since it started in 2017, continues to offer this vital service to seniors. Our medical equipment loan program, headed by Susan von Ranson, serves Wendell citizens of all ages when needed. We have had several special programs, including two Arts Grant programs, one being an intergenerational program of music performance at Swift River School with Tim Van Egmond, and a pastel drawing class. Shawn Jarrett provided a crafts group along with Janice for several weeks in the spring. We still have the capacity to open as a cooling center in the event of high heat events in the summer, but it has not been activated in 2018. We continue to maintain a resource library of services in the area for seniors. Katie Nolan also continues to offer Benefits Counseling on an appointment basis, and can help folks fill out and submit forms for SNAP benefits, heating assistance, etc.
Our Building had three replacement windows installed on the south side, which had been poorly fitting and operating. The Energy Committee has funding to install window quilts for the Center to further provide energy conservation.
The Community and Senior Center continues to offer a home to many community groups, including the Sunday morning meditation group, open to all, and the Wendell Warriors drum group, who use the building at least twice a week and who have evolved into a performing group since starting as an intro to drumming class about three years ago! Thanks to the WW, who volunteered to clean the windows in the building. Other groups who use the Center have included the Wendell Chorus, Janice Doubleday’s Wednesday yoga class, Larry Kopp’s Kirtans, Doug Tanner’s mixed music sessions, Stephen Rice’s board game trials, and occasional book groups, meetings or other events.
Village Neighbors, a new local nonprofit to help seniors over 60 stay in their homes as we age, has used our building for committee meetings and storage of records. In exchange, they donated a new dehumidifier for the cellar. The Council on Aging looks forward to collaborating with Village Neighbors on providing such services as rides, help with household tasks, technology and social events to seniors from Leverett, New Salem, Shutesbury and Wendell who choose to join the Village. Joining together in this way allows for the ability to provide some services that none of the towns are able to manage themselves, as none of the towns have paid staff in their Senior Centers, as larger towns do. We invite all to investigate the activities of this volunteer organization and to consider joining as a volunteer of any age to establish a culture of keeping our older community members healthy and active in our community, aging in place as most of us wish.