Commission on Aging Meeting
04/08/2020 @9:30 a.m.
9:30 am call to order via Zoom Conference
Present: Mary Dale Lancaster, Sarah Atwood (on telephone), Ingrid Heller, Jean Rexford, George Cohen, Hilda Rhodes, Ruth Moran, Michelle Stillman, Angelica Fontanez, Dev Patel, SW. Kathleen Brandt, Julia Pemberton, Karen de Friesse, Randi Hutton. Janet Metzger (on telephone).
Minutes: Karen de Friesse
1) Approval of March Minutes: delayed
2) Public Comment: None
3) Director of Senior Service (Ruth Moran): Ruth Moran talked about how some programs are trying to continue using “Zoom”. Current Events is having their 3rd Zoom meeting today. The Clay Group and some exercise classes will also make use of the Zoom platform. Julia Pemberton needs to know who is working on activities so they can still be paid. The “Walking Map” Ruth Moran sent out is a big hit; however, an incident with an elderly person being bitten by a dog started a conversation about leash laws.
The discussion continued with Julia Pemberton remarking the only dog leash restrictions are at Topstone Park and there is no town wide prohibitions. The Selectman continued with her frustration in not being immediately notified, but Angelica Fontanez had sent an email to the First Selectman, and Mike Licarie was able to attend to the initial wounds as he is a trained EMT, and the police were called.
4) Social Service Director (Angelica Fontanez) report: The Director began by talking about the food pantry and the increased usage. Seniors were coming in prior to signing up for Meals on Wheels and Angelica Fontanez has been able to give them quick meals; soup, etc. Kathleen Brandt inquired about the form for Meals on Wheels and the form for volunteering. Ms. Brandt hoped there was a way to autofill online. Julia Pemberton said she would ask Alice Smith, her assistant, to create the online form. The Director said the Social Services office will accept the forms regardless of how they are sent; email, fax or via USPS. Ms. Fontanez also mentioned the financial challenge of meeting the current food pantry needs, but she is managing with Caraluzzi gift cards and money left in the budget.
Angelica Fontanez also talked about getting the Heritage Blast to give more information on mental health during this pandemic. Mary Dale Lancaster also suggested sending out resource information more frequently. Phone calls are being made to some seniors by the staff and such calls seem to be appreciated, prompting additional commission members to volunteer. Ruth Moran said each senior should be contacted by the same person to give a sense of fellowship.
5) Final thoughts: Kathleen Brandt was concerned about the dog bite incident and the liability the town faces. Julia Pemberton remarked the town is always sued but the dog owners are very vocal in their opposition to leash laws. She also noted that dog owners are liable for the actions of their dogs Mary Dale Lancaster suggested signs be placed at the Heritage Center and offered to send a letter to the Selectmen for consideration. Mary Dale Lancaster ended the meeting with thanks and kudos to everyone.
Meeting adjourned at 10:02am. Next meeting will be held on May 13.
Karen de Friesse