Waterbury Area Elderly Center weather pandemic storm – Waterbury Roundabout

A lot has happened in the past year, and few local social service organizations know it as deeply as the Waterbury Area Senior Center.

But as the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated disruptions and challenges persist for nearly two years, center officials report they are staying the course.

The organization begins 2022 without any turnover in its board of directors and a now-experienced set of officers, all of whom have worked diligently with staff and volunteers to inject renewed energy and clarity into the centre’s operations. for the elderly.

The centre’s board of directors held their annual meeting at the end of November via Zoom and it looked and sounded very different from the year before. Board members worked together to provide effective and informative presentations. Board Chair Justin Blackman chaired the meeting, and Treasurer Maureen White and Members Lindsay Bolger and Barbara Barra shared detailed information on the organization’s finances, the Meals on Wheels program and various events.

A slide presentation highlighted key points, which many Blackmans called “milestones.” They included the return of assembly meals to the Senior Center last June.

“The isolation caused by COVID was especially hard on our seniors, and you could really feel the joy in the room that day,” Blackman reported.

He confirmed that everyone who attends these lunches is vaccinated. Currently, meals are served on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Even when group meals could not take place, staff and volunteers continued to deliver Meals on Wheels without interruption. “We have never missed a single day of delivery throughout COVID,” Blackman noted proudly.

Speaking on behalf of the Meals on Wheels program and its volunteers, Bolger explained, “We were diligent, we were thoughtful, we were careful and we were truly privileged to be able to continue to stay in touch with our customers.

The Meals on Wheels program is available to residents aged 60 and over in Waterbury, Duxbury, Moretown, Bolton and Middlesex who have limited difficulties or opportunities when it comes to shopping and food preparation. Eligible seniors can choose to have meals delivered up to five days a week, Monday through Friday, depending on their specific needs. A Friday delivery may include something to heat up for a weekend meal.

The program currently serves 103 clients. In his presentation, Bolger emphasized that Meals on Wheels is much more than a transactional deposit by a delivery driver. Instead, the volunteers also take the time to do informal wellness checks, connect the elderly with additional services, and provide a few minutes of enjoyable conversation, she explained.

Bolger used a current menu to showcase the types of meals chef Donna Barr prepares that “get really rave reviews.” Main courses range from roast beef and shepherd’s pie sandwiches to mushroom and broccoli quiche and blueberry pancakes.

“Donna works so hard to keep our menus exciting and interesting, filled with variety and a range of truly delicious foods that she cooks from scratch,” Bolger said.

Volunteers and partnerships

Blackman and Bolger both emphasized the value and important contributions of volunteers to the operations of the Senior Center. According to Blackman, volunteer time over the past year amounted to the equivalent of 1.5 full-time employees, or 42% of all hours worked at the center.

He thanked volunteer Marybeth Longo of Duxbury, who “truly deserves her own special star in this [volunteer] category ”to do everything from help in the kitchen to coordinating the driver’s schedules for meal deliveries.

Bolger, who also volunteers as one of those drivers, admitted that “this has been one of the most rewarding and rewarding volunteer commitments I have ever made.”

Barra explained how, in addition to meal deliveries and gathering meals, other milestones for the Senior Center in 2021 involved popular activities and events. One of the most popular programs has been Movie Night – “or, more accurately, a morning movie,” Barra joked – which is open to seniors and their caregivers on the first Sunday of every month at the Senior Center. And on Mondays and Wednesdays, after the rally meal, many seniors stay for “lively and competitive” domino games, added Barra.

She also described “wonderful partnerships” with other organizations that were helping older people in the area “lead healthy and fulfilling lives”. For example, Central Vermont Home Health comes to the Senior Center to hold foot care clinics every six weeks, as well as an annual flu shot clinic. The Vermont Animal Disaster Response Team donates pet food for monthly delivery by Meals on Wheels drivers to seniors with pets.

The Waterbury Historical Society maintained ongoing programming for the Senior Center, producing short newsletters for inclusion in meal deliveries and hosting presentations and outings.

Not yet out of the financial woods

The second half of the meeting focused on Treasurer Maureen White’s financial report and Blackman’s subsequent analysis of the challenges and opportunities presented by the current financial situation.

White explained that although the Senior Center ended its 2021 fiscal year with a net surplus of $ 74,000, this result is misleading. More than three-quarters of that, or 18% of the centre’s total income, could be credited to a one-time COVID-19 relief grant. Another exceptional windfall of just over $ 20,000 from the centre’s auto sales also helped boost revenues.

Looking ahead to 2022, White explained how the cost of meals and expected services to be provided, minus the Federal Older Americans Act meal reimbursement, leaves the senior center with a funding gap of $ 7.67 per meal. . It comes down to about $ 200,000. Even with the 2021 surplus to apply this year, fundraising will have to exceed $ 100,000.

Blackman explained how the center had to bear new costs during the pandemic, such as the need to use disposable meal containers while fundraising that relies heavily on events has failed. “A pandemic is not ideal for fundraising,” he admitted.

However, Blackman ended his remarks on an upbeat note and a call to action. He said the Senior Center will continue to restart programs and events this year “while maintaining an environment where everyone can thrive together.”

At some point, the senior center will resume serving gathering meals five days a week, which could be a stretch for the current pool of volunteers. “We may have to go to our wonderful community for help,” admitted Blackman.

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