By John Anderson
The Auburn Council on Aging met on Tuesday morning at The Lorraine Gleick Nordgren Senior Center. The Council was informed that member Roberta Briggs had submitted a letter of resignation for personal reasons. During the last month, Executive Director Marie Sullivan along with several board members attended a conference in Sturbridge on the future of senior centers. This was a major event that brought in attendees from across the country and discussed, among many topics, a certification process for senior centers. There will be training for board members on October 30th.
Assistant Director Cheryl Westerman is working with the Commonwealth on a program to financially help seniors with purchasing hearing aids. She will report back as progress is made. The Library working group reported reasonable attendance at a recent meeting. The individuals have diverse reading interests but share the love of books. FASCA (Friends of the Auburn Senior Center Assoc.) was recognized for funding the recent landscaping improvements around the center.
Recent improvements at the Senior Center also include two reported by seniors: repairing some outdoor lights which only come on at night and, therefore, were never noticed by the day staff; and painting the flag pole which involved two other town departments – DPW Facilities Maintenance and the Fire Dept. for the use of their Tower truck. Director Sullivan said that during the last month maintenance costs were a bit high due to work on the HVAC system, alarm system, and backup generator. Much of this had not been done for some time since the Director’s job was unfilled for 16 months. Schedule improvements include bathroom renovations over the winter and a handicapped accessible entrance in the spring.
Ms. Sullivan, who completed four months on the job today, also reported she booked Blackstone Valley Blue Grass for July 29 of 2014. This was through a Cultural Council grant. A St. Vincent grant for $1,200 will be used to assist local seniors with van transportation to and from the Center. The Director credits volunteers for making the Senior Center run smoothly. With only 2+ full-time equivalent employees, excluding the nutrition staff, there are many tasks at the Center that are left to volunteers. Much administrative effort has to be devoted to obtaining grants in a very competitive playing field.
If there is one message that Director Marie Sullivan wants to get out to Auburn’s seniors, it is that Auburn’s Senior Center “is out to tap every type of senior.” From M-F lunches at $2.00 (free or discounted for those with financial issues); to yoga, meditation, and zumba sessions; to painting classes; to wonderful excursions; and finally to games and activities for nearly every interest, there is plenty to do at 4 Goddard Dr. She said the stigmas attached to senior centers are slowly going away. This is a good thing for America’s aging population in general and Auburn’s seniors in specific.