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COA Discussed Receiving Funds, Temporarily Tables Second Terminal Idea



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The Commission on Aging discussed receiving funds through grants and awards to address the various needs of senior residents at its latest meeting.

Director of Human Services Natalie Griffith opened her report on May 20 by saying that she has not received any update about the grants the commission recently applied for and discussed in last month’s COA meeting.

She did, however, learn about the approved allocated funds that came as a result of State Representative Mitch Bolinsky. According to Griffith, Governor Ned Lamont said Bolinsky could direct the $100,000 “in a way that he saw fit,” as recognition for all the work he has done as the head Republican on the Aging Committee.

“Then he brought it to us and asked what we could utilize $100,000 for,” Griffith explained. “And that would obviously work towards those efforts that are focused on aging in place and combating social isolation; something that wasn’t just a one-time purchase, but instead something that we could build that has a lasting impact.”

Griffith added that she, Bolinsky, First Selectman Jeff Capeci and Friends of Newtown Seniors President John Boccuzzi Sr have spent time discussing how those funds could be well utilized and sustainably allocated in town.

She said they eventually landed on transportation as “it has been a big area of what we’ve been talking about for a long time.”

“These funds are really an amazing opportunity,” Griffith continued. “This isn’t like a regular grant. These don’t have the same kind of restrictions that a grant might have.”

This comes after the COA had already prepared and submitted a grant request to Western Connecticut Area Agency on Aging (WCAAA) for transportation funds with ARPA dollars. An $85,000 grant would support seniors and disabled residents with transportation challenges by enhancing transportation services and their efficiency.

Griffith also said, following a recent meeting with the town engineer, that the outdoor patio area construction project for the senior center is scheduled to be completed for a July 4 opening. The project was funded through a $62,000 ARPA grant for patio enhancements received last fall.

Her report continued with her saying that she had just submitted an application to WCAAA for Newtown Senior Center to be registered as one of their Senior Center Focal Points. Focal points, Griffith says, are “facilities established to encourage the maximum connection and coordination of service for older individuals.”

These can range from libraries and universities to social service departments and senior centers; every area on aging designates the focal points in their community according to Griffith.

She went on to say that being recognized as a focal point for the community would include being listed through WCAAA’s directory and website, local and regional recognition, and “a nice accolade for the work that Human Services and the senior center do for the community.”

Griffith finished by saying that she had been formally voted onto an advisory council of WCAAA. Her first meeting with the council will be on June 14 and she looks forward to sharing what she hears with the COA, she added.

Old Business

Griffith then brought up a potential second terminal the commission discussed purchasing for the senior center during last month’s COA meeting.

There is currently only one My Senior Center terminal in the facility. Members use the terminal to sign in when attending classes or events, while senior center staff use it to keep track of who is in the building.

In response to a concern raised by a commissioner during the March COA meeting, Griffith in April explained that only having one terminal creates difficulties with too many members coming in at the same time and crowding around the terminal, causing them to bypass it altogether.

In continuing that discussion on May 20, Griffith said she would like to table the idea of purchasing a second terminal. This is because, she said, senior center staff have created a new check-in point which alerts people entering the building with verbiage encouraging them to stop and sign in.

She added that it is also “membership time” and that current senior center memberships are expiring on June 30.

“So now is our chance to get people and get their pictures uploaded into the system,” Griffith continued. “So I just want to see how that goes.”

Since Griffith said that she predicts June to potentially be “a busy month” in terms of membership, discussion regarding the second terminal will be tabled until July.

Reporter Jenna Visca can be reached at jenna@thebee.com.

Commission on Aging members (clockwise from left) Michael Stern, Barbara Bloom, William Darrin, Pat Bailey, alternate member Jack Kitterman, Claire Theune, Anne Roth, and LeReine Frampton met with Director of Human Services Natalie Griffith (not pictured) to discuss receiving several grants to help support the local senior community during the May 20 meeting. —Bee Photo, Visca
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