Commission on Aging
Members:, Hilda Rhodes, Garner Lester, Ruth Moran, Ingrid Heller, Sarah Atwood, Kathy Brandt, Mary Dale Lancaster, Sarah Cummings, Jean Rexford, Pat Sovern
Public: Doug Renfield Miller
Staff: Angelica Fontanez, Michelle Stillman, Margherita Pilato,
First Selectperson: Julia Pemberton
1. Meeting called to order: 9:02 am at the Heritage Center
2. Minutes approved: November 10, 2021 – with correction – Tai Ji Quan class was misspelled in previous minutes. Sarah Atwood & Sarah Cummings approved with correction.
3. Public Comment: Doug asked for relevant topics to contribute to his blog and to the BLAST. Michelle suggested local contractors seniors can contact; MDL suggested Long Term Care Insurance options. Doug would appreciate hearing about any subjects of concern think seniors would like to read about.
4. New Member: Pat Sovern was introduced and welcomed. Julia will write the official letter of appointment to her and Peggy Zamore, and both will formally be sworn in by the town clerk.
5. Director of Social Services: Angelica Fontanez
Social services report: 32 visits to the food pantry. Discussion ensued as to future of pantry. Food Pantry use across Fairfield County is down and gift cards are quickly becoming the preferred contribution device. COA to work on catchy slogan and more to introduce this idea to the public. Oil & fuel assistance up with 11 participants, 3 new energy assistance applications. Cost $586.57. Brunissen Trust is a modest private income only trust established by estate of Redding resident to benefit Redding seniors. They enthusiastically agreed to sponsor for a set amount, pending approval by their treasurer, monthly lunches for seniors. Seniors may still need to pay a nominal amount. Van had 52 trips last month – 10 medical, 20 shop/medical. Van grant has been approved, still needs further work. Van can travel to Ridgefield, Newtown, Danbury, Bethel, Wilton, but not much farther than that due to logistical and time issues. Norwalk is beyond the scope. Question about how old van may be used. In January, Social Services will look into M7 as a potential supplemental service.
6. Senior Program Director: Margherita Pilato:
Lunches – over 20 participants each month. Very successful. Sign up limited to only sign up for 2 of the four lunches. Query re: outreach to residents without computers. Program participation was reviewed. New classes reviewed. There is still a space issue for classes meaning that certain classes cannot be held. Request to have an outside porta-potty back, but Julia says they are there for special events only. With new skating rink, possible that porta-potty will be set up for limited time. Discussion about Computer needs. Chromebooks may be recommended due to attractive price. Query whether Chrome Books can manage all needs. Department head meetings are coming up December to January. Process is ongoing. Still need to put in a formal request for these computers and other items. Margherita to submit request within the next 2 weeks. Easy solution to boost the poor signal within building is to get boosters. Our current provider Aegis could get us room boosters. Angelica should work with Julia to get that done.
7. Programming Committee: Ruth Moran presented.
Has met over several occasions. Building: Pressing immediate issue is creating more flexible space in the building. Discussion about architectural supports, potential low budget building change suggestions to Heritage wing made gratis by architect Rob Dean (invited by Programming Committee) ensued. Julia: anything over 25-50 K would have to go through ARP, but she will see what we can accomplish in the short term. Aging Happens Program: Met with Anne Hughes last week last week to discuss our thoughts on a program addressing issues of aging. A panel of legislators as a kick-off event was discussed, including hopefully Senator Blumenthal, to get communications between seniors and legislators flowing. Spirited discussion ensued. A January 23rd date was proposed, but we have to be flexible with COVID. Chair suggested that COA would want to have its program more fully developed, including a written proposal of what Aging Happens will do over the next several months, prior to presenting program. Jean will suggest March when she writes to Senator Blumenthal’s office.
8. Chair report: Mary Dale Lancaster
As per recent FOIA meeting, Subcommittees need to keep minutes that will be presented at meetings and possibly submitted for filing at town hall. Yearly meetings – COA agreed to keep our meetings the 2d Wednesday of the month, subject to holidays. MDL will submit schedule to town clerk. Budget requests being made this week. We need to resend to MDL all our contact information for inclusion in a COA Roster. We have a few openings. Bring people forward. Get the word out. All were invited to the post-meeting farewell to longtime and highly respected commissioners who have recently or are now retiring: Ingrid Heller, Janet Metzger and Karen deFriesse.
9. Old Busines: None
10. New Business: None
11. Meeting adjourned: 10:40 am.
Next meeting on Wednesday, January 12 at Heritage Center, (in person meeting subject to future Covid restrictions)
Submitted by Kathleen Brandt