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A small group of thoughtful citizens
By Barbara St.Pierre
The Adams Council on Aging (COA) at 20 East Street in the Community Center Building was originally owned by the Catholic Diocese of Springfield. The center is the last building remaining that was a complex of buildings utilized as a medical respite facility. We share the building with the Youth Center and the Northern Berkshire Solid Waste Management.
Our COA's mission is to advocate on behalf of seniors age 60 and older. We provide information and referral services in cooperation with town departments and other relevant agencies. We strive to identify unmet needs in our community and network with other agencies to meet those needs. Also, we work to enhance the quality of life for seniors and the community by providing educational, cultural activities and programs.
Our successful accomplishments
The Adams COA has two handicap/wheelchair accessible vans, contracted through BRTA, to serve the transportation needs of our seniors.
The vans transport clients to Adult Day Health and Supportive Programs and to our congregate meals at the Center. The van makes weekly trips to Price Chopper, Big Y and Wal-Mart. Daily trips transport our clients to the COA, doctor’s appointments, shopping, prescription filling and hairdressers. Monthly trips are made to the Berkshire Mall with a twice monthly trip to the Center for Senior Club and special events held several times a year.
Seniors regularly join us for a hot, nutritious lunch prepared and served by Elder Services' Nutrition Program, and we were recently featured as one of the “Fine Dining Spots in the Berkshires” in “Berkshire Senior.” Those who attend may enjoy a pre-lunch game of cards and our Senior Club members meet on the first and third Thursdays at 1 p.m.
The COA has provided a Supportive Day Program for 24 years. It provides a group setting to assist participants in recovery or rehabilitation from an acute illness or injury, or to manage a chronic illness. These services include assessments and care planning, non-medical health related services, case management, social services, therapeutic activities, nutrition and transportation. Our services focus on a participant’s strengths and abilities. We assist them in a success-based program to retain their skills and have a general sense of wellbeing. Family members and care partners are provided respite while knowing that a dedicated and loving staff is caring for their loved one. The program is designed to promote friendship and socialization in a home away from home atmosphere. The program operates Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in conjunction with Elder Services, which may cover the fee for an eligible participant.
We sponsor The Brown Bag Program from the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts for the residents of Adams and Cheshire who are age 55 and older and who meet the USDA eligibility guidelines. The program participants receive 15 pounds of groceries monthly for a three-dollar donation.
In addition, there are two extremely important programs that we offer in Adams:
The first is the Senior Tax Work Off Program implemented in 2008. The town offers 10 slots for seniors to work in different town departments.
Residents are required to work for 62 ˝ hours for a Real Estate Tax deduction within the same fiscal year.
Lastly, I have worked here for five years with no formal educational training. However, my passion lies in speaking to seniors concerning their needs. My goal as a public servant and advocate is to enhance seniors' quality of life, help them remain at home and in their community. I supervise student interns, mostly from Berkshire Community College. We teach, demonstrate and offer our time and talents to students majoring in the human service field. We learn from each other and continue to accomplish our goal for the school, students and the council.
I would love to share a quote by anthropologist Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Barbara St.Pierre is the Adams Council on Aging Director.