COMMISSION ON AGING
February 9, 2022
Meeting Held via Zoom, no recording
Board Members: Mary Dale Lancaster (chair), Kathy Brandt (co-chair), Jean Rexford, Hilda Rhodes, Peggy Zamore, Garner Lester, Ruth Moran, Sarah Atwood, Sarah Cummings
Staff: Angelica Fontanez (Social Worker), Margherita Pilato (Director of Senior Programs), Michelle Stillman, (Administrator)
Public: John Reilly, Carolyn Baker, R.S., Sarah
First Selectperson: by Alice Smith, Executive Assistant to Julia Pemberton
- Meeting called to order: 9:02 am via Zoom
- Minutes approved: Approval of minutes from January 12, 2022 : Hilda Rhodes, Sarah Atwood
Public Comment: R.S. refuses to ID self, another member says public does not have to ID themselves, though it is generally deemed polite to do so, and is a long standing practice at COA meetings.
- Director of Social Services: Angelica FontanezSee report. Very busy with Eversource & energy grants. Only 7 food bank visits. Still working on Senior Center van grant. Time-consuming. Initial application took a good week, 25 hours, and much more work has followed. Due to Angelica’s Spanish speaking fluency, the language part of the grant was satisfied. Peggy Zamore mentioned available United Way programs with easy applications that Angelica could resource.
- Senior Program Coordinator: Margherita Pilato See report. January limited attendance limited by Omicron, picked up later in month. Take-out lunch was very successful will repeat this month. IPhone tutorial, Meditation series were new programs and well received. Will repeat it for next month. Qi Gong grant has been renewed. Jean Rexford, 24 people at Pickleball, many new to the center. Rob said the Community Center is not automatically closed when schools are closed, so why can’t we keep our programs open. Of course, safety is the first consideration.
- Committee Reports:
- Architecture: Ruth Moran: Garner Lester has joined the committee along with Sarah Atwood. Consideration was where retractable wall should be placed. Decision: between computer lab and lounge. Make lounge where card room is now. Remove door, so lounge is open and inviting. Cannot have food pantry and other random drop-offs taking up space. Need to investigate type of wall movement, remote or manual. Minor renovations are unrelated to the need to overhaul the entire community center, a different discussion entirely. Would like to make wall where piano is a storage cabinet wall, which was included in the architect’s suggestion. It would offer much needed storage. ARPA funds might help out with these minor alterations, but we need hard figures to present. Within 2 months maximum. Computer room looks pretty grim, when are we getting new computers? Alice and Margherita will discuss. Computers have previously been shared with middle school students as well.
- Food pantry: Garner Lester / Sarah Cummings: Use of food pantry throughout state has diminished, most towns have switched to gift cards rather than handing out food. 135 people across all ages qualify for SNAP in Redding, but most do not use the food pantry. Food cards offer more dignity than getting products they may or may not prefer. Garner Lester and Sarah Cummings are going to offer ideas for changing town’s expectations about the food pantry. Sarah: Garner has worked on an announcement, need to work on wording to express appreciation for donations, but preference for the food cards. They will figure out how to get the information out to the public. Ridgefield just completely shut down the pantry. Need to be sure we are not a repository for things we do not need, like out-of-date food. Discussion ensued.
- Communications: Peggy Zamore & Pat Sovern have been looking at the problematic communications issues with certain seniors. Meadow Ridge is also studying this problem, even within their own facility. Discussions are ongoing. Doug Hartline has a list of seniors in town, not sure if that is something we can access or not. Will also connect with people at Meadow Ridge to see how they are planning to resolve the issue. The town website generally looks good, but maybe a few details could be updated. Hard copies of newsletters placed in public spaces might be helpful. Park & Rec has an outdoor pavilion on the planning board.
- Programming: Hilda Rhodes: Couch has been recovered, thanks to some generous private donations for that purpose. AGING HAPPENS is too big to start in January. Grants are on hold. Next committee meeting to be held in February and we will get busy on fixing things up ourselves.
- Chair’s Report: Mary Dale Lancaster
Budget: requested for Margherita to become full time. Have been trying to get a full time director for 4 years. The need is strong.
- Our Trust and Agency account is now at $130K. Review of that account was presented. Much of the increase has been since COVID. Used for a number of different needs. If van grant doesn’t come through, it would take 50K to replace it. Possible uses of the T & A funds were explained by Mary Dale & Angelica. Even travel camp for children may be helped out with these funds. Angelica spent 40K when COVID hit to help families who had lost their income due to the virus. Ideal to keep a 40K cushion for emergency expenditures. Additional ideas for possible use of funds was discussed, ie, for transportation to medical appointments and procedures. Several questions arose for Julia and Steve, i.e., could old van be sold and the money used for transportation for seniors in other ways? Mary Dale and Angelica will discuss with Julia & Steve ways to make optimal use of the funds.
- Enquiries from community about different ideas for Redding Seniors, some are profit-driven enquiries, but there are so many enquiries, it’s hard to sort it all out. The Wilton Stay Home program was briefly referred to. So, we are hearing about all these, and they are getting vetted.
- ARPA funds: meeting tomorrow evening open to public via Zoom, @ $2.7 million, there are expected to be a lot of requests for the $. The ARPA committee will be setting up criteria for distribution. Some COA requests will be included as possible expenditure, esp. making Margherita full time and small changes to the configuration of the Heritage Center.
- Old Business – NONE
- New Business – NONE
- Meeting Adjourned: 10:33
- Minutes taken by Kathleen Brandt
Next Meeting on March 9 at the Heritage Center
(In-person meetings subject to Covid and weather conditions)