COMMISSION ON AGING MEETING
March 10, 2021 @9:00 A.M.
9:02am call to order via Zoom Conference
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Present: COA: Mary Dale Lancaster, Sarah Atwood, Ingrid Heller, Garner Lester, Kathy Brandt, Hilda Rhodes, Sarah Cummings, Jean Rexford, and George Cohen.
Town employees: Angelica Fontanez, Julia Pemberton, Lucy Milano (student intern), Alice Smith, Michelle Stillman, Margherita Pilato
Members of the public: Doug Renfield-Miller
Minutes: Lucy Milano
1) Approval of February Minutes: George Cohen, Kathy Brandt
2) Public Comment: None
3) Director of Social Services Report (Angelica Fontanez): Angelica mentioned that she is still helping residents with the food pantry and energy assistance program. Donations have still been very generous. She mentioned donations by Redding Open Land and Caraluzzi’s matching gift cards ($850). Angelica also explained that she worked with the Police Department this month on three cases. One case took about a week because services through 211 took a very long time to help the client find shelter. She brought up her concerns about the 211 system and said that she let the state representatives know her experience. Angelica also said that her department continues to be very involved with coordinating the vaccine appointments because some residents are still struggling to use VAMS and some seniors are having trouble getting to their second appointment and have reached out to her department for help. She said RVNA has let her schedule some appointments for residents with unique cases. Angelica said the van is being used again and has given about nineteen rides. Mary Dale Lancaster asked if Angelica is able to manage her workload when crisis cases come up and Angelica explained that she is and that Dev helps with the administrative tasks, which helps her a lot. MDL asked about transportation and Angelica explained that she is in the process of applying for a grant to help with the van. She said the money is secured because it is a non-competitive grant. There is also another van grant that will start taking applications in a few months.
4) Senior Activity Program Coordinator Report (Margherita Pilato): Margherita shared that there was $1190 paid to the instructors and the center brought in $810. She said they have been having steady Zoom attendance and there are positives to the platform such as residents from other towns joining. Other members have expressed that they don’t like being on Zoom, so she is hoping there can be a mix of in person and Zoom in the future. She thanked Garner Lester for inviting her to his class because she was able to meet members and get feedback from them. Margherita explained that she has been getting to know the Weston Senior Center and they invited Redding seniors to be a part of a free program with the Bartlett Arboretum and they can join their French classes. She said they have recently started new classes such as ukulele and yoga nidra. Margherita has also planned a St. Patrick’s Day drive-thru celebration at 11am. She reached out to some businesses to get donations for the event. Margherita also explained that the Tai Chi instructor and herself are applying for a program through the CT Department of Aging and the CT Healthy Living Collective that uses TaiChi to help seniors with their balance. The program would pay the instructor, so the classes would be free for members. It is twice a week for 24 weeks and they are required to have at least eight members attend regularly. Jean Rexford asked if the senior center will be opening when the state does, and Angelica shared that they are following instructions from Doug Hartline and Julia Pemberton and they are also using the center for a vaccine clinic so that could cause an issue. Garner Lester shared that many members of his class like Zoom and he thinks there should be a mix of in person and Zoom in the future.
5) First Selectperson (Julia Pemberton): Julia shared that as of last week 20% of the town has been vaccinated. 65% of 75+ have been vaccinated and about 65% of 65+ has been vaccinated too. She said that last week the clinic in town vaccinated 200 residents and she hopes that the town continues to get 200 or more vaccines each week. Mary Dale Lancaster asked if the senior center coordinator job was presented as a full-time job in the budget and Julia said that it is a part time position right now, and in the budget presentation they included that there was a recommendation to make the position full time. Julia then discussed the Georgetown project, stating that the town took title of the property on February 16th. The property needs to be evaluated and she is hoping to receive grant money for the project. There will be a virtual public forum about the project on March 25th.
6) Chair’s Report (Mary Dale Lancaster): Mary Dale Lancaster thanked Sarah Atwood and Sarah Cummings for helping with the COVID-19 presentation through the Mark Twain Library. MDL also asked Jean Rexford about the Death with Dignity/Aid in Dying Bill. Jean said that it was voted out of committee with bipartisan support and is now a house bill. She said the next challenge is to get the bill raised. MDL also mentioned that the Heritage Center’s website needs to be updated and that an email address for the COA would be helpful. Margherita and Alice shared that they discussed the website, and they plan on updating it. MDL shared that it has been very challenging to get a vaccine appointment now that it is opened to the 55+ group. MDL asked the group if they knew of any plans to repair and paint the buildings and Alice shared that the repairs are being worked on right now.
7) Old Business: None
8) New Business: None
Meeting adjourned at 10:00 am. Next meeting will be held on Wednesday, April 7, 2021.