Senior Advisory in conversation with Mary D.
Members of the Senior Advisory Committee sat down last Tuesday with Mary Donnelly to discuss ways that the group can fill in some gaps as her term as Director of Welfare draws to a close. Committee chair Gail Pierce said, “Mary and I have been talking, trying to compile a list of facilities that might provide the services of a social worker, a grievance counselor, a physical therapist, etc.” — whatever island residents might need at specific times.
Among the contacts that Donnelly made the group aware of was Susan Carson, who is coming to the Soup Group on October 26 to speak about Medicare. Sponsored by South County Community Action (SCCA), Carson has also made three individual appointments before lunch that day. A social worker also brought over by SCCA will be available then as well. Sandra Hopf noted that there is a physical therapist who can service the island through the Visiting Nurse Association, but a physician has to write a referral first.
Another agency that Donnelly suggested contacting was Visiting Angels, which she said will send service providers out on the ferry who can do housekeeping, help with shopping and make lunches or other meals. Individuals pay for services, unlike those provided by FISH (Friends in Service Helping), a volunteer group sponsored by the senior board.
Two visitors to the Advisory Committee were Donn Frageau and Lonni Todd, who proposed a meals-on-wheels kind of service. Frageau, who along with Diane Tripler owns Mabel’s, said he was aware of several situations in which “some people need meals delivered, and we think we’d be able to provide the food and delivery.”
Generally warming to the idea, the group thought training might be needed for those going into individual’s homes. Todd volunteered to take a course if needed and to be available for food delivery and to visit people confined to their homes. She said since she had stepped down from her position as Library Director, she was available and would like to do more within the community. Pierce thought there would be other volunteers, as well. Donnelly said, “We need to see who are the homebound.”
Proponents of fresh cooking
Frageau said, “We are proponents of cooking fresh and as local as we can get.” Asked what might be a ball-park fee, he said, “Somewhere between five and ten dollars.” He added there might be a kind of sliding scale. With interest in the proposal running high, a subcommittee comprised of Betsy DiMaggio, Frageau, Pierce and Todd was created to help establish guidelines for eligibility and to set up the necessary logistics. As Linda Spak pointed out, among those needing the service might be people recuperating from an illness. Once these issues are worked out, it was agreed, individuals needing meal deliveries can contact Frageau and Tripler directly.
Sandra Kelly reported to the committee that their proposal to the Town Council of raising the minimum income eligibility for tax relief to $40,000 per household from $30,000 had been approved, allowing a tax exemption of no more than $600 per household. Those with questions about eligibility may contact Lisa Omerle at Town Hall.
Reviewing recent activities
Senior Coordinator Kathleen Mitchell ran through a series of activities that had taken place during the first two weeks of October and been well-received. Among these was A Taste of Tuscany hosted by Pat and Tom Doyle, Wednesday Walks, S’mores at the National Fireside, Wine Tasting with George Tabor and the weekly Soup Group and Lunch Bunch.
“In trying to do a lot of fun things, we’ve been planning field trips,” said Mitchell. She added that sign up had been slow so far, and the first trip this week had no takers, but she was waiting to see what would happen with one scheduled for the end of the month. The trips will take participants to places for off-island shopping, lunch, at times a movie and perhaps other stops as participants might suggest. With a van driver provided by the Recreation Department, the idea is to offer trips off island on a regular basis. Participants will be responsible for their ferry tickets and any personal expenditures.
Mitchell said she would like to plan a trip to the Rhode Island School of Design museum and even has thought of overnight trips including a hotel stay so that people might attend theater or other productions in Providence.
The next meeting was set for November 13 at 10 a.m.