Commission on Aging (COA) Meeting 12/9/2020
9:03am 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, Sarah Cummings, Randi Hutton, and Jean Rexford.
Town employees: Angelica Fontanez, Julia Pemberton, Lucy Milano (student intern), Alice Smith
Members of the public: Sharon Hoverman and Janet Metzger
Minutes: Lucy Milano
1) Approval of November Minutes: Karen de Friesse and Ingrid Heller
2) Public Comment: None
3) Dates for 2020 meetings: Mary Dale Lancaster proposed continuing to meet on the second Wednesday of every month and all agreed. Karen de Friesse volunteered to go through the calendar and make sure that there would not be any conflicts with those dates. (2021 meeting dates attached to these minutes).
4) Report by COA Sub-committee (Survey): Mary Dale Lancaster explained that there was a glitch in Survey Monkey which only allowed 40 of the 80+ responses to be viewed. MDL suggested that we submit a letter to the Hello Redding, the Blast and the town website, explaining the problem and asking for people to submit paper copies of the survey and drop them off at either the library or the Heritage Center. Garner Lester mentioned that the survey is still online for people to respond to. Query: how to remove? Garner also explained that he copied the survey and put it into a Word document that could be printed and distributed. He expressed concern about where the survey would be distributed and where people would return it to. Garner also suggested the possibility of using other survey websites to send out the survey such as Google Forms. Mary Dale Lancaster suggested putting a link to the survey in Hello Redding, the Blast and the town’s website to distribute the survey. MDL also asked the committee if distribution should start now or wait until after the holidays and the committee agreed to start distribution as soon as possible.
5) Administrator Report (Angelica Fontanez): Angelica Fontanez reported on behalf of Michelle Stillman about the senior center. Some classes were able to be held outside last month. All of the classes were still taking place with average attendance. There are also programs meeting through Zoom.
6) Director of Social Services Report (Angelica Fontanez): Angelica Fontanez explained that she has been very busy. In November, the oil, fuel, and electrical assistance costs were high, about $4,000. There have been a lot of donations and the food pantry has been fully stocked. Many churches and organizations worked together to rake leaves for seniors in the community. There were about twenty identified eligible families and twenty seniors that received gift cards and food from the food pantry for the Thanksgiving baskets. The PTA raised money for the gift cards. The NCL and St. Patrick’s Church delivered the baskets to the seniors. Angelica said she received the yearly gift cards from the Brunissen Trust that she mails directly to the seniors. There was one police crisis case that required someone needing a shelter. Angelica was able to make arrangements for that person to stay at the hotel, but the hotel will be closing, so she is going to meet with other social services directors and see how they handle these types of problems. Angelica also mentioned that she is working on the Christmas program. There are about twenty seniors and twenty families. There are thirty-two children on the list that will receive gift cards or items. Angelica also discussed the process of finding a new senior center program coordinator has begun. Interviews have been conducted and she is pleased with the possible options. Angelica talked about the budget and explained that making the senior center program coordinator job a full-time position is high priority. Jean Rexford asked if a senior citizen will be attending the interviews and Julia Pemberton explained that Mary Dale Lancaster will be part of the interview team. Mary Dale Lancaster explained that she would like to have someone who is very active at the senior center take part in the interview process and Julia agreed. Jean Rexford also asked if Angelica needs volunteers to help with reaching out to seniors to talk to them if they are lonely and make sure they are doing alright. Angelica explained that in the beginning of the pandemic they had volunteers set up with seniors but that she is going to make sure that the volunteers are still calling the seniors, and more volunteers are always helpful. Angelica also explained that she would like to use some of her donation funds to buy fresh produce and fresh meat once a month and deliver it to the seniors so they can receive nutritional meals. Jean also asked about the van usage. Angelica explained that the van usage has decreased, and she thinks it could be because of Telehealth appointments or seniors not feeling safe.
7) First Selectman, Julia Pemberton: Julia Pemberton was asked about the COVID-19 vaccine. Julia explained that the information she receives comes from the CT Department of Public Health and the Governor’s taskforce. Julia said that the frontline workers such as hospital and long-term care workers will be getting the vaccine first and that should start in about a week. Julia also mentioned that there would be four phases and that essential workers such as first responders and government officials would be next along with people over the age of sixty-five, but there is no time frame for that yet. Mary Dale Lancaster asked if the vaccine will be available to receive in Redding. Julia said she thinks Redding residents will either have to go to Bethel or the Ridgefield VNA to get vaccinated. Julia also stressed the importance of staying home as cases continue to rise. Randi Hutton asked Julia about Meadow Ridge taking in COVID-19 patients. Julia explained that Meadow Ridge (Ridge Crest) is taking recovering patients into their medical facility to give hospitals more room.
8) Chair’s Report, Mary Dale Lancaster: Mary Dale Lancaster explained that she thinks having hot food delivered to the Heritage Center for residents to pick up needs to wait until after COVID-19 because the risk is too high. MDL also mentioned that after COVID-19, a policy for the van needs to be created.
9) Old Business: None
10) New Business: None
Meeting adjourned at 9:43am. Next meeting will be held on Wednesday, January 13, 2020.