COMMISSION ON AGING
January 12, 2022
Meeting held via Zoom – No recording available
Members: Mary Dale Lancaster, Kathy Brandt, Peggy Zamore, Jean Rexford, Sarah Atwood, Pat Sovern, Hilda Rhodes, Sarah Cummings, Ruth Moran, Garner Lester
Staff: Angelica Fontanez, Margarita Pilato, Michelle Stillman
First Selectperson: by Alice Smith, administrative assistant to First Selectperson Julia Pemberton
Public: Bev Schaer
1. Meeting called to order: 9:04 am via Zoom
2. Minutes approved: Sarah Atwood, Pat Sovern for December 8 meeting.
3. Senior Program Director: Margherita Pilato
See report for December. Omicron affected attendance starting mid-December. Advanced Qi Gong class has had good attendance and the grant will be renewed for another class, starting in the spring. Early December opera screening followed by lunch was very popular. Omicron thereafter reduced attendance for choral concert and other events. Catered lunches are all on hold for now, due to Omicron surge. Sent Julia a request for technology needs, including improvement in WiFi, without any hardwire changes, in case there are architectural changes. Recommended large Chrome Books with touch screens, for computer classes. No particular software requested, all digital based programs. Many seniors need basic understanding of computer and phone usage and MP will seek to set up classes that focus on that. Take-out lunch scheduled for end of January, Din-Din (Redding owners), pan Asian restaurant, with a fried rice bowl. Ukelele class will return, but instructor has had shoulder surgery. Beginning pickle ball class: still going on. Access to Blast discussed. Many seniors still do not have or do not know how to access the Blast. Pat Sovern’s suggestion; we need to be pro-active to reach out to seniors, and not make them find us. Peggy and Pat asked to work on outreach ideas.
4. Director of Social Services: Angelica Fontanez
Food pantry visits dropped in December. Oil requests busy now. Generous anonymous donation for $2K Caraluzzi gift cards. Van grant approved, but still many hoops to jump through. Looking to purchase a new van once all the details of the grant are worked out. Budget will be presented at meeting with Board of Selectman on January 21st. Mary Dale spoke with Kevin Jones, chair of Park & Rec. Joint interests in improving the building shared by both. Plan to present budgeting requests one after the other, instead of hours apart. A series of walking paths around the Community Center is being developed by Park and Rec – we will invite them to a meeting to present. Angelica will present 2 major budget items: full-time hours for Margherita, and maintaining hours for part time help, including SSW Dev, and Tina Armato, who designs Blast. Their hours were less during the pandemic, but will be needed as the pandemic eases. Brunnissen Trust is a possible fund source for future catered lunches for seniors.
5. Chair report: Mary Dale Lancaster
First testing kit distribution was a bit chaotic, second roll out with prior sign-ups went better. Many seniors did not see the second option to sign up – note that many seniors are NOT on Facebook. Cannot assume that seniors go to FB or read town web announcements. Doug Hartline, Health Officer, has now listed locations to get Covid tested, either with home kits or at testing centers. Question about whether some tests should be reserved for seniors, as was done in other neighboring towns. MDL to write a letter to Doug. Angelica received very limited testing supplies at the Center. Discussion regarding home testing ensued. Food pantry issues: limited food pantry visits, food pantry has a full stock of food. Thoughts about having supermarket gift cards only. Need to educate the town that we are moving away from food donations, towards gift cards only. Sarah Cummings and Garner have been investigating what other towns do, and it appears we just have to announce in a positive manner what we are willing to take or not take. Sarah and Garner will work on this and present at the next meeting. Plan to work with Angelica on changing over to a gift card program.
ARP committee will meet on the 18th. ARP distribution of funds will be a process. MDL represents the Commission on Aging and hopes that Kathy will help out.
Biggest priorities: programming, full time director, building expansion. Next priority – some people may try to get rid of senior tax credit. Mary Ann Guitar started this for reasons that still hold true in Redding today. MDL expects a push to take this away. We need to form a group to work on this issue. Jean Rexford will work on that.
6. Program committee:
a. Architecture conversations: Ruth Moran, Sarah Atwood
As per last December COA meeting: Interim changes can be made to enhance the Heritage Wing. As per one-time volunteer professional architect Rob Dean, these would not be overly expensive, such as the removal of a wall. Want to have a welcome room at end of the hallway, need a welcoming lobby. Not sure what the next step is. Ruth will write a letter to Rob Dean requesting a brief report with suggestions in writing to be submitted to COA, for possible discussion at th budget meeting. These are interim recommendations for the building until capital improvements can be implemented. Will try to present some of the ideas at next week’s budget meeting.
b. General programming: Hilda Rhodes
No new meetings in December. Meeting to be scheduled for January. Aging Happens program still in development. MDL thinks it will take time. Discussion ensued on formatting this program. Peggy Zamore will join the programming committee.
7. Old Business – NONE
8. New Business – NONE
9. Meeting adjourned at 10:40.
NEXT MEETING FEBRUARY 9, 2022 AT HERITAGE CENTER
(In person meetings subject to Covid and weather conditions)