Stan interviews Mary Beth Ogulewicz, Amherst's new senior services director about the status and future of programs for residents who are 60-plus.
Ogulewicz was appointed by Town Manager Paul Bockelman in July, following retirement of former director Nancy Pagano, who held the post for 47 years.
The Amherst Senior Center, located at the Bangs Community Center downtown, is the focal point for community programs and services for older adults and caregivers, Ogulewicz said. (The center's website is here: https://amherstma.gov/269/Senior-Center) However, services are expanding beyond the center, to include nutrition, nursing care, and off-site food delivery programs.
The center's 2019 report to the Amherst Town Council shows steady growth in the population of residents who are 60-plus, which now stands at about 5,000. Through the Highland Valley Elder Services' (http://www.highlandvalley.org/) Congregate Lunch Program, nearly 6,000 meals are served at the Senior Center annually, while lunchtime deliveries to seniors in Amherst and Pelham total over 16,000 a year. (The report can be seen here: https://amherstma.gov/…/Senior-Center-Town-Council-Presenta….)
Ogulewicz is a former criminal prosecutor and social worker, who has taught English as a second language, yoga and mindfulness. Her efforts to learn about the community include going with drivers to deliver meals, attending Senior Center meals and classes, and teaching yoga, among other activities.
Ogulewicz said her role is to be a "community collaborator." She has met with the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce, the Amherst Housing Authority, and staff from senior housing complexes, to discuss how they can work together to "fill gap needs," for residents.
She and Rosenberg will discuss projections for Amherst's aging population, along with the need for more intensive services in the future. More help is necessary for seniors who face eviction or become homeless, Ogulewicz said, while Amherst also should expand supports for those suffering from dementia.
Funding for Amherst's senior services comes from a mix of sources including the town, state and federal aid through Highland Valley Elder Services, community grants, fundraising by the Friends of the Senior Center, and individual contributions.
Amherst's Council on Aging, at https://amherstma.gov/190/Council-on-Aging, serves as an advisory board for Ogulewicz. It also sets policies and advocates for Amherst's elderly residents. The Council is seeking additional volunteers, to reflect the population served by the Senior Center. Those interested in the Council or other town government posts can submit a Community Activity Form, found at this link: https://amherstma.gov/…/Commu…/Community-Activity-Form-62-62
Amherst Media and former Massachusetts State Senate President Stan Rosenberg team up for “Byline with Stan Rosenberg,” an issue-oriented local government news program. “Byline” will tackle town, regional and state news topics as Rosenberg interviews players in both town and state government affairs.