Council on Aging Meets in September 2022

The Holliston Council on Aging held its September 14, 2022, meeting in a hybrid format.  As such Chair Yvette Cain called the meeting to order and read the required statement regarding the use of remote participation during the meeting.  After taking attendance by roll call.  All members of the Council were present with Associate Member Peter Eagan participating via Zoom.

Members of the Senior Center Staff (above left – Asst Dir. Amanda Boarlessa-Looper, Dir. Lisa Borchetta, and Outreach / Transportation Coordinator Melicia DaCosta) updated the Council on significant work being done or in the planning stages. The Center has received a new technology grant that will provide new tablet computers to Holliston seniors along with training sessions to learn how to use these powerful tools.

Outreach Coordinator DaCosta has begun work for the Fuel Assistance program for the upcoming heating season.

Chair Cain shared these updates:

  • The annual Senior Support Foundation Fall (SSF) Fair was held on September 10th. 
  • She thanked the SSF and all the volunteers who contributed to the Fair’s success.
  • Thank you to CoA members Kathy Anguish and Carmen Chiango for their input on the upcoming senior survey
  • A Bike / Listening tour along Norfolk St. Will be held on Sunday Sept. 17th
  • Long-time CoA member / chair Bob Malone tendered his letter of resignation from the CoA
  • Recommends the “Select Chat“– an informal session with Select Board Chair Ben Sparrell – open to all ages
  • State Senate President Spilka’s annual health fair is now open for registration -> Senator Spilka’s 2022 Health Fair

Center Director Borchetta shared the following:

  • A new ramp will be installed at the back door of the Center – similar to the new concrete ramp at the front entrance.
  • The Senior Center Garden, tended by Kathy Anguish and her committee, has survived the drought and provides vegetables and flowers for use / distribution at the Center.
  • 388 boxes of free COVID test kits have been given out at the Center.
  • $1,170 was requested from the SSF to cover snacks for several upcoming gatherings
  • The State Formula Grant may provide a significant increase to Holliston’s allocation based on the 2020 census

Chair Cain had asked the Center Staff to compile statistics that capture the volume and range of services / activities the Center provides Holliston seniors for FY 22 (7/21 – 6?22).  This is the first year that such a comprehensive data report has been compiled. It serves as physical evidence of the Center’s work and will be a baseline for future annual summaries.  The entire data report is too big to include here.  Some highlights that caught my eye were:

  • Grants other than ARPA = $92,921.69
  • ARPA Grants = $160,000
  • Transportation = monthly average – 183 (there are now 5 part-time van drivers)
  • Outreach – data were collected from Jan – June 2022.  Taxi rides and nutrition help were the most utilized.
  • Demographic data of Senior Center users:
    • 43% Male; 55% Female
    • 86% Holliston residents
    • Aged below 55 = 1 %
    • 55 – 64 = 20%
    • 65 – 74 = 43%
    • 75 – 84 = 23%
    • 85 and older = 12%
    • Volunteer hours for the Fall Fair = 967 (likely an undercount)

The Staff and Council members expressed their appreciation for these  data.  It shows the breadth of services currently provided.  Tracking of volunteer hours was also included in the data summary.   The Council hopes that these data will be presented more formally to the Town leadership as an illustration of what happens at, and through, the building at 150 Goulding Street.

Associate Member Peter Eagan (below) represents the CoA on the Envision Future Holliston committee.  He sat on the data sub-committee of the 17-member committee.  Mr. Eagan shared some data from the second survey report. 

  • 1,105 survey responses were received
  • 34% of the 60 + age group responded (a significant increase from the first survey)
  • He prepared those at the meeting that the questions regarding seniors did not rate very highly.
  • There are 369 PAGES of written responses included within the report (that’s a lot of information)

The EFH committee will present summary findings at the Fall Town Meeting and the report will be posted on the Town website soon.

The Council reluctantly accepted Mr. Malone’s resignation and is now looking for a person to take his vacant seat on the Council.  Interested parties should send a letter of interest to Town Administrator Ahern ahernt@holliston.k12.ma.us

The Council voted to accept the draft Code of Conduct promolgated by the Assistant Town Administrator / HR Director.  The Code outlines behaviors acceptable as “civil discourse“ for elected and appointed Board, Committee, and Staff members in their conduct as a public representative of Holliston.

Members of the Council noted that they had received a yellow postcard from the Umass Gerontological Institute alerting seniors that the Holliston Senior (age 55 and older) Survey will be available soon.  Copies will be mailed to the target population AND/OR the survey can be completed online -> Town of Holliston Council on Aging Community Survey The survey closes October 14, 2022.

The meeting adjourned at 3:55pm.  The next Council on Aging meeting is slated for October 12, 2022, at 2:00pm.

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Chris Cain

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