How often have you heard from a older person in your life say, “Don’t worry, I am fine.” Or, “Don’t throw that away, there is a quarter inch of milk left!” Or, “I really don’t need a new coat, I got this one the year dad died in 1999.”
You might have heard your mother or dad say this. This is the generation of “Make Do.” This is the generation who were born during or just after the Depression. For the most part, they live quiet lives not fussing too much.
In a way, this is why Longmeadow is the only town in the area not to have a new Senior Center.
No one fussed. Well, there have been several initiatives by farsighted community leaders to make it happen, but their efforts failed. In some ways, seniors were their own worst enemy. Several ladies at the Center were asked if they needed a new center, and predictably they replied “this is fine.”
It is not fine. It is a piece of work held held together by dedicated and determined staff who operate in space unsuitable for most of the services they provide.
Did you know that the center provides backup for the police and fire departments? Suppose an older person forgets a pot on the stove. They extinguish the fire but notice the house is wall to wall newspapers. They call the outreach worker at the Center. Suppose you don’t see your neighbor for some time and you ask the police to do a well-being check. Police discover the neighbor is having trouble walking and is almost out of food. They call the nurse and the outreach worker.
Keep in mind, that many folks do not have family nearby, or family that check in. They do not live in Genesis House, Glenmeadow or Emerson Manor who keep track of well-being.
The Senior Center is our safety net providing social services, social connections, medical programs, and a shield against loneliness. The present center is not Fine. Please vote “yes” on No. 14 at the May 8 Town Meeting.
– By Marjorie Morgan, LICSW, Longmeadow