Senior Center’s virtual programs growing in popularity

Jul 22, 2020 by

Published July 22, 2020

By DAN TOMASELLO

LYNNFIELD — The Senior Center is offering a number of different virtual programs in order to help seniors stay engaged while its doors are closed to the public.

Senior Center Director Linda Naccara said during a recent press conference that all of the state’s senior centers remain closed due to the COVID-19 virus pandemic.

“We are going to be closed indefinitely until it is safe,” said Naccara. “We are working really hard at the Lynnfield Senior Center to do as much as we possibly can.”

Naccara said the Senior Center recently restarted its van service program, which is used to take seniors on errands to the grocery store and medical appointments.

“We are able to take seniors to the grocery store two mornings a week,” said Naccara. “We can take you to a medical appointment, the pharmacy or whatever you need.”

Naccara also said the Senior Center has restarted its “drop off and delivery program for library books.”

“If you cannot get down to the library to pick up your book, you can call the library and tell them what books you want,” said Naccara. “The library will then call us and our van driver will go pick up the book and take it to your home, drop it off and pick it up when you are done with it.”

Naccara said the Senior Center’s grab-and-go lunch program was started several weeks ago. The program is being held on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

“It has been a tremendous success,” said Naccara. “We are having a tough time keeping up. You can call the center at 781-598-1078 and tell us what days you want to sign up for lunch. You drive up to the front of the building and we ask that you put a box or a bag in your trunk. We will open the trunk, take your $2 out, put your meal in and then you go home. We do ask that you go straight home with the meal and either refrigerate it or heat it up to the proper temperature and enjoy it. We have about 60 people a day using it.”

Naccara said the Senior Center is offering a number of different virtual programs that are being held on Zoom teleconference.

“Our watercolor class, which has had a waitlist for years, is now on Zoom,” said Naccara. “We also have our photo club as well as our yoga and Pilates classes every morning.”

Naccara noted that Senior Center trip coordinator Sue Lagorio has started a virtual book club and a virtual movie club. She said receptionist Janine Bennett has started a program called “Coffee with Janine.”

“We have gotten a huge response to that for people who just want to see a face and visit with somebody,” said Naccara.

Naccara said van driver Claire Foustoukos has launched a new program called “Zoom Lunch Bunches.”

“That has been a wonderful thing as well,” said Naccara.

Naccara noted that activity director Elaine Moorman launched a new bingo program last week. She said outreach worker Debby Triffletti will be launching a new reminisce program as well.

The Senior Center’s staff is also making weekly cooking demonstration and craft demonstration videos for seniors to watch online. Naccara also informed the Villager that Endicott College psychology professor Dr. Beverly Dolinsky has produced three videos about anxiety, dealing with COVID-19 and mindfulness for seniors to watch.

In response to a question from Town Administrator Rob Dolan, Naccara said the Senior Center’s staff has worked to familiarize seniors with Zoom.

“A lot of seniors have chosen this time to go buy their first iPad or their first iPhone to be more involved,” said Naccara. “We are helping them get online and are teaching them Zoom. Our numbers are growing. There are messages on the machine every morning and emails every day saying, ‘my neighbors are doing this and I want to join. What do I need to do.’”

Naccara said a lot of seniors’ families “have been phenomenal” with helping them learn the ins and outs of technology.

“Thank you to the families who are helping us,” said Naccara. “You have been amazing.”

Naccara also noted that she and her staff are still calling 1,500 seniors to make sure they are okay.

“We are still calling every day,” said Naccara. “Thank God everybody is doing pretty well. If anybody has had any needs, we have tried to help them with that.”

Dolan called the outreach initiative “wonderful.”

Naccara said the Senior Center will be launching more virtual programs in the near future.

“We have a lot more coming,” she said. “We have a whole Disney week planned, a virtual tour of WGBH and a ‘Hamilton’ talk. Cheryl Faye, who does plays for us, has agreed to do a video about Louisa May Alcott.”

Naccara noted the Senior Center has been emailing residents about its virtual programs each week.

“I just encourage people to keep opening those emails,” said Naccara. “We have had such a positive response. It does my heart good because this is unknown waters for us. It’s a new normal, but I am grateful that we have the technology to do it. If anybody needs anything whether it’s a phone call or one-on-one FaceTime, the whole staff is doing that as well. We have a great team here and everybody has stepped up and doing all that we can.”

Dolan commended the Senior Center’s staff for diligently working to meet seniors’ needs, particularly “fighting isolation.”

“That might be the biggest challenge we have with our seniors,” said Dolan. “The Senior Center has done a great job keeping an eye on our senior citizens.”

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