COMMISSION ON AGING
Minutes – April 6, 2022
Held at the Heritage Center
Present: Commission Members: Mary Dale Lancaster, Kathleen Brandt, Jean Rexford, Peggy Zamore, Hilda Rhodes, Ruth Moran, Sarah Atwood, Sarah Cummings
Staff: Angelica Fontanez
First Selectperson: Julia Pemberton
Meeting Commenced at 9:06 am.
1. Approval of Minutes: Sarah Atwood, Jean Rexford
2. Director of Social Services – Angelica Fontanez: Low food pantry participation, but all donees happy to receive a gift card. Oil assistance requests pretty high, oil prices very high. Brunnisen Trust is giving $200/month toward senior lunches. Big uptick in home & police visits. Van has been very busy with 87 trips in last month. Social Service budget hasn’t been updated yet to include March numbers. New van, paperwork submitted – awaiting vendors. Discussion ensued: multiple SS interactions over last month. Help needed by residents for Covid related rent and mortgage payments
3. Senior Program Coordinator – (presented by Angelica Fontanez -Margherita is out sick): Programs have been busy and the lunches very popular. St. Patrick’s Day event hugely successful with 30 people and much fun. Meditation sessions are popular. 35 came for latest cafe lunch. Should have a donation jar for free classes like Jean’s – at next meeting will discuss how such funds can be raised and kept track of. Also, should look for volunteers for serving/cleaning lunches, and extend the time allotted for the lunches, as it becomes a fun social event, and many seniors are seeking community.
4. Committee Updates:
1. Programming Committee – Hilda Rhodes: program committee has been operating well – started small and then morphed into different committees – building, interior decorating and more. Now that Margherita is going to be leader with her FT status, programming will step back into being volunteers as she needs. Would like to partner with MTL for one or two events per year. A reminder – the MTL / COA Medicare program had good turnout.
2. Communications Committee – Peggy Zamore: Wants to get a list of seniors in Redding from Doug Hartline so we could do a targeted mailing. There may be HIPPA issues with that. Can get this info through tax assessor’s office, but info may be limited to those households that take advantage of the senior tax credit. Julia suggested that the voter registration lists are public and could be helpful in identifying those over 60. That makes voter registration best source. Jean volunteered to help get the names. Research shows 2K++ people in Redding over the age of 60. Peggy will work with commissioners to reach out to houses of worship to inform them about the Senior resources available.
3. Architecture Committee – Ruth Moran: In light of the overall study that may be authorized by the ARPA committee, it would be advisable to scale down the previous request for immediate funding for the Heritage to the sliding wall. Ruth presented pictures of proposed sliding walls. It makes sense to place a sliding wall between card room and computer room. Would allow seniors to have a larger room for events as needed, especially in the afternoons when Park & Rec takes over many of our rooms for the children, benefiting all parties. Ruth will put in a application on behalf of COA to ARPA funds for possible June vote.
4. Food Pantry Committee- Sarah Cummings: Conversations with stakeholders indicate that everyone is agreement that gift cards are preferred to a food pantry. They allow participants to choose their own food and fresh things those who need the help are more likely to accept food cards. We should get the word out and transition to all gift cards (instead of food) and to tell people we are no longer accepting food. Sarah and Garner are going to write up a good communication to this effect. Ridgefield and neighboring towns are also moving in this direction. For those who insist on food donations, SS can provide a list of food pantries in other towns that will accept food.
5. First Selectperson report -Julia Pemberton: Julia is setting up an overall architectural study of all town buildings. School buildings will be evaluated separately. Julia doesn’t see a big change in town office use. With some older schools requiring extensive and expensive updates, it may be more sensible to construct a new building as the state would cover some of new building costs. So, Redding will move forward on town side, do schools separately.
6. Chair Report – Mary Dale Lancaster:
1. Jean Rexford brought up starting a special fund, like the trust and agency account for playgrounds or pickleball. Monies could be used for senior programming or specific need. Discussion ensued – will bring it up at the next meeting. Discussion of ARPA committee meeting schedules ensued.
2. Plan for increased senior / COA community involvement: maybe volunteer at May 14 Frog Frolic. A game we could sponsor? Sarah Cummings will contact Melissa, who is in charge of FF, and see what is needed. Maybe have a booth with seeds and pots for kids to plant.
3. Chair reports empty seats on commission – 2 openings for alternates. Right now, only Peggy is an alternate. We can have 1 more Democrat and one more non-democrat. Jay Sackman, who wants to start a Villages to Villages program, has been encouraged to move forward – some discussion of that program. A few potential candidates were discussed. Other candidates are welcome for consideration.
4. April 18 is the live town meeting at RCC to approve the programs selected by ARPA and Selectmen for funding. Making the Senior Programming position full-time is one of the items to be voted upon. Having requested full time status for the last three years, and with the ever-growing need – both with larger senior population and desire by seniors to participate at the senior center, this is an important vote. All highly encouraged to attend the meeting and participate.
7. Old Business: None
8. New Business: None
9. Meeting adjourned: 10:32 am.
Submitted by: Kathleen Brandt
Next COA Meeting – May 11, 2022 at the Heritage Center