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Minutes of Commission on Aging, 11/20/2019

AGENDA: Commission on Aging Special Meeting

RECEIVED 11/25/2019 8:30am
Kathleen R. Miserendino - Redding Deputy Town Clerk

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Commission members present:
Mary Dale Lancaster-Chair, Sarah Atwood – Vice Chair, Hilda Rhodes, Kathy Brandt, Jean Rexford, and Janet Metzger
Alternate – Karen de Friesse

Angelica Fontanez – Director of Social Services
Ruth Moran – Senior Center Program Coordinator
Julia Pemberton – First Selectman
Guests – Ruth Wolsch – Meadow Ridge, Michele Stillman and Nancy May

The meeting was called to order at 9:02 a.m.

Approval of Minutes from October 2019
Jean Rexford, Janet Metzger – unanimous

I. Senior Center Program Coordinator – R. Moran

Ruth Moran began by saying that the paid and unpaid programs are consistently attended. The new program on learning the ukulele with Wendy Matthews was not listed on her report but is picking up members.  Janet Metzger thought we might want to inform other senior centers to gain more enrollees.  Mary Dale Lancaster wondered if “Hello, Redding” or “The Danbury News-Times” might be interested in doing a story on the ukulele lessons.

The Coordinator also mentioned her concern with the weekly decline in the lunch program.  Jean Rexford wondered if simple sandwiches could be offered with Sarah Atwood wondering whether the CW Resource contact would allow additional food.

II. Social Service Director’s Report – Angelica Fontanez
Angelica Fontanez began by saying the numbers for requests for energy assistance are up. The question arose as to how residents learn of the program.  The Director stated she reminds last year’s users to reapply if needed and that the Danbury office is overwhelmed at this time of year, so the sooner applications are submitted the better.  The energy assistance program is federally funded with a lot of paperwork demanded and only some oil companies participate.  Jean Rexford talked about the cost of living in this area, but the Director assured the committee the program was very generous.

Angelica Fontanez talked about the donations being up which was unusual for this time of year with Christ Church Parish being particularly generous.  The revenue collected for the programs was very positive but the Food Bank needs toiletries, canned protein sources and condiments.  Mary Dale Lancaster suggested Meadow Ridge might want to have a fund raiser with Ruth Wolsch reminding the committee that Meadow Ridge had a fund raiser last year.

III. General Discussion

Mary Dale Lancaster began by mentioning the cohort report compiled by the committee members with the unusual statistic that Redding had the highest percentage of seniors (over 65) at  nearly 20%.  The Chairman went on to the business of building maintenance and a memo she was preparing to present to the First Selectman when Julia Pemberton joined the meeting.  The Chairman explained the memo and led a discussion about the maintenance issues along with a positive comment on the new chairs.  Although there had been some improvement, there remained areas of concern.  The First Selectman explained how she has been hoping for a building manager to oversee all town buildings including the schools, but the salary was not in the budget.  Mary Dale Lancaster offered to have the Aging Commission commit to supporting the idea with letters and appearances at the Selectmen meeting.  Julia Pemberton was grateful for the support and suggested the committee attend the next budget meeting to be held on December 18th at Town Hall.

The discussion went on to the various uses of the Heritage Center and the need to create more space.  Julia Pemberton stated that a private entrance to Angelica Fontanez’ office was a top priority.  But the First Selectman said that in the current budget stagnation perhaps thinking outside the box for other spaces would be the best course of action.  Programs could be held at the Mark Twain Library or other places in town.  The Chairman reaffirm the committee’s priority of making the Heritage Center the place to be.  Julia Pemberton agreed to meet with Mary Dale Lancaster and Sarah Atwood at the earliest opportunity to discuss issues.

The committee discussed the cohort reports researched by the members and the best way to communicate with the residents including a direct mailing.  Newsletters from other towns were passed around for comment and Ruth Moran offered to have her assistant look the newsletters over with the possibility of using some ideas in the Heritage Newsletter.  The idea of membership in the Heritage Center was discussed and whether the residents would respond.  Jean Rexford asked to perhaps flip the agenda so the committee could fully discuss options and the comparison with other towns, but the Chairman reminded her of the need to oversee and hear the reports from the Director and the Coordinator.

IV.  Old Business – None

V.  New Business – None

The meeting was adjourned at 10:37 am.

The next COA meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, December 11, 2019 at 9:00 a.m. at Heritage Center.

Minutes prepared by Karen de Friesse.

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