Published: 09/04/2021 22:00:04
Modified: 09/04/2021 22:00:05
Although the title (“Seniors’ Centers Remains Closed in Grafton County”) is subject to misinterpretation, Valley News Editor Liz Sauchelli’s article on Grafton County Senior Citizens Council in the August 30 edition captures the dilemma faced by CCSAG leaders and staff as we strive, in the COVID-19 environment, to maintain a very high level of services for the elderly and adults with disabilities.
Like the participants in our eight Grafton County centers, our employees yearn for a more complete return to the camaraderie and intellectual stimulation that has long characterized the senior center experience. In the face of increasing infection rates, we must remain vigilant and our zeal for a “return to normalcy” must be tempered by constant concern for safety and adherence to reasonably calculated practices to minimize risk.
Our senior centers “remain closed” as we are not yet comfortable resuming indoor group activities or gathering meals. But since March 16, 2020, our staff have been working to design and implement substitution programs to entertain and engage our customers; make sure they are safe, healthy and well nourished; and ward off the deleterious effects of isolation. Over the past 17 months, our Meals on Wheels programs have continued and we have distributed many tons of shelf-stable foods and other household items. We have put in place and take out meal programs. Foot clinics and transport are once again available and our online offers are multiplying. Outdoor programs at our sites include woodworking, chair yoga, bingo and tai chi. Hundreds of wellness checks are performed each week, to assess the health and well-being of our customers and to provide an additional measure of social interaction.
It is arguably the most difficult period in our nearly 50-year history. There is no doubt that the arrival of cooler weather will present us with new challenges, but I am convinced that the creativity, dedication and spirit of the employees whom I have the immense privilege of leading will prevail. once again.
The author is executive director of the Grafton County Seniors Council.
When I’m tempted to complain about being locked in my regular home during the pandemic, I try to remember three famous homes from history: a barrel, a log cabin, and a palace.
The Greek philosopher Diogenes was famous for living in a barrel turned on its side. He used it to illustrate the virtues of a simple life. When he noticed a child drinking water with cupped hands, he threw down his own bowl, saying, “A child beat me in the simplicity of life.
Over 2,000 years later, Abraham Lincoln was born in a one-room log cabin in Kentucky. The boy who grew up reading books in front of the flickering flames of a fireplace would rise to occupy the country’s most important house, the White House. From there, Lincoln wrote two of America’s greatest speeches: the Gettysburg speech and his second inaugural speech (“with malice towards no one; with charity for all”).
Two hundred years earlier, Louis XIV would build the largest palace in the world, Versailles. With 700 rooms and over 2,100 windows, it featured 6,000 oil paintings for entertainment and a Hall of Mirrors (357 in total) that could be illuminated by 20,000 candles to provide viewers with an incredible flickering light show. . Yet at 1,300 feet long, Versailles was a giant freezer of marble and gold. Its 1,200 homes could not heat it. The wine froze in the glasses at the king’s table in 1695. And with 700 chamber-pots thrown out the windows and 900 perfume-foamed courtiers, the palace was to be enveloped in a distinct aroma.
Remembering those three different homes, I walked through my pandemic lockdown enjoying amenities that a philosopher, president, and king couldn’t imagine: central heating, flushing toilets, and electricity. Oh, and Wi-Fi, which can summon Diogenes, Lincoln and Louis XIV into my presence at the touch of a screen. Magic.
A few weeks ago I was looking at our locker room and thought to myself, “I love the deacons bench here, but it would work so much better if we had something about a foot smaller. It had to be sturdy, rustic and big enough that our two dogs could sit and look out the window. We have a house from the 1700s, so it must have “felt” good.
I started with my usual places: the side of the road (I’m cunning and I can fix things), and social media. Most of the benches I saw online were too far away or too expensive. After a few weeks, one caught my eye: a white bench that sellers said needed painting (not in my opinion). The size was right and they were ready to meet in the next town. The problem: it was more than I was willing to spend. I was going to pass, then I decided to offer what I was willing to pay. They could always refuse me.
I had no idea who the sales people were. After making my offer, I felt a little uncomfortable. I finally looked to see if they answered, and I was hoping they hadn’t yelled at me because I wasn’t expensive. I got a response: “Hi Robin! It’s Holly!
Holly was the first person I met when my family moved here in 1974. This bench belonged to her mother. When she passed away, Holly kept it on her porch. She had painted it years ago and now it needed a little attention. She started doing it again and realized they didn’t need it. It was time to sell.
Holly and I grew up together. We haven’t seen each other for a few years but still manage to say happy birthday to each other and exchange Christmas cards. Over time, we have lost people close to us – our mothers, our siblings – and together we have been through those times. We have always been, and continue to be, connected now through a wooden bench.