COMMISSION ON AGING MEETING
November 12, 2020 @9:00 A.M.
9:02 am call to order via Zoom Conference
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Present: COA: Mary Dale Lancaster, Sarah Atwood, Ingrid Heller, Karen de Friesse, Garner Lester, Kathy Brandt, Hilda Rhodes and Sarah Cummings.
Town employees: Angelica Fontanez, Julia Pemberton, Lucy Milano (student intern), Alice Smith
Members of the public: Morna Crites-Moore and Patricia Werfelman
Minutes: Lucy Milano
1) Approval of October Minutes: Karen de Friesse and Sarah Atwood
2) Public Comment: None
3) Report by COA Sub-committee: Kathy Brandt went over the preliminary results of the survey. There were 40 responses and 29 more responses that have not been looked at yet. Key takeaways from the survey are a lack of programming, people would like to come to outdoor classes, poor communication on the website, a little less than half did not know the transportation van was available, and that a new senior center coordinator is needed as soon as possible. Most of the participants used the survey link that was e-mailed by town. Many thanks to the subcommittee for their work to date: Jean Rexford, Kathy Brandt and Sarah Cummings.
4) Director of Social Services Report (Angelica Fontanez): Angelica started by going over Michele Stillman’s report about the senior center. Classes have been taking place outside but will have to end because of the weather. Classes have also been held through Zoom. The soft reopening of the senior center needs to be pushed back because of the spike in COVID-19 cases. Income from the class participants is about $907. Only 26.7% of the budget has been used for senior programs at this point. Angelica spoke about the job posting for the senior center coordinator position and questions were asked about who was seeing the job posting and why there have not been many applicants for it. Angelica mentioned that they would like to use PayPal for seniors to pay for classes, but the finance department has not approved it yet. Paypal is expected to be up and running by the COA’s next meeting
Angelica continued with her social services report. She has been very busy with the energy assistance applications. She discussed the leaf raking program for the seniors. It was harder this time to find volunteers because of COVID-19 but with several organizations helping out they were able to rake leaves last weekend and will do more again this weekend. About eleven homes will get their leaves raked. The Thanksgiving Drive is coming up. There have been a lot of food donations and the food pantry is fully stocked. About 12 households have used the food pantry. Donations through PayPal has equaled $720 with an additional $2,000 from two churches. AF is still doing wellness home visits. Due to Covid, the amount of people using the van has decreased to 2 people. AF also discussed the budget. She has not used much of the budget from the town because she has been able to use funding from Salvation Army and United Way. AF also has a grant from the Social Service Trust and Agency Fund that provides $10,000 for food items.
The idea of having a food truck or food delivered to the senior center was discussed. Mary Dale Lancaster explained George Cohen’s thoughts about food trucks. Food trucks would need to be of a certain quality, advertised, pay for a permit, and may be an idea for the Spring. Mary Dale Lancaster and Lucy Milano discussed the possibility and details of having Pignones bring food to the senior center. The food temperature could be an issue. Having a food truck during outdoor classes in the Spring was also discussed.
5) First Selectman, Julia Pemberton: Ms. Pemberton started by stating that the budget season is underway and making the senior center coordinator a full-time job could be proposed. The First Selectman also mentioned the spike in COVID-19 cases in Redding. She would like to open the Community Center, but it needs to wait until the cases decrease.
6) Chair’s Report, Mary Dale Lancaster: Ms. Lancaster introduced Garner Lester. She also suggested creating a sub-committee to look into how to market the senior center and fix the website, using Garner Lester’s expertise to head up these efforts. Mr. Lester graciously agreed. Ms. Lancaster also asked if anyone is good with numbers and would like to look at the budget. If anyone would like to volunteer, please contact her. MDL mentioned that the Mark Twain Library is interested in doing more programs with the COA.
7) Old Business: Lucy Milano has been hired as the stenographer.
8) New Business: None
Meeting adjourned at 10:25am. Next meeting will be held on Wednesday, December 9, 2020.