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Senior services ready for elders at new locations

Date: 7/20/2011

July 20, 2011

By Debbie Gardner

Assistant Editor

WESTFIELD — It’s been a fairly smooth transition, and one that now-officially appointed Senior Center Director Christine — “Tina” — Gorman hopes will bring more of the city’s seniors back to take advantages of the center’s offerings at its temporary location in St. John’s Lutheran Church.

“We had a big following at our old senior center, but as the [downtown Westfield] construction was happening, we were losing more and more attendees,” Gorman said.

She noted that it just became too difficult and, in some cases, dangerous, for many of the city’s elderly to access the center at its 40 Main St. location with so much construction in the vicinity.

“There was no access, no parking and Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA) couldn’t drop off or pick up [passengers] at that location,” Senior Center Clerk Carol Shannon told Reminder Publications.

Gorman said three weeks into the relocation of programs — the senior center moved the majority of its programs to the St. John’s fellowship hall at 60 Broad St. on June 27 — she is trying to reach out to those former attendees to let them know that there’s plenty of safe, easy-access parking at the temporary site. Senior Center program hours at St. John’s — including the lunch program — are Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday and Friday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Shannon said seniors would find the Westfield Senior Travel Club, Serving Health Insurance Needs of the Elderly (SHINE) Counselor Karen Noblit, the medical equipment lending closet and her office, which is still the source for PVTA van tickets, on the second floor of City Hall in room 206.

“The travel club is open its normal hours, Mondays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to noon,” Shannon said, adding that seniors can call the original center phone number, 562-6435 to make appointments with Noblit for SHINE, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Fuel Assistance concerns.

Gorman said she realized the center would have to relocate — and quickly — as she left the city’s construction meeting on June 10. Her priorities in locating a new site were “it had to be safe, it had to be big enough, and it had to have a kitchen.”

She said she immediately thought of the hall at St. John’s, where the center had recently relocated its brown bag food distribution program. She contacted the church’s pastor, Christopher Hazzard,

“I figured start there,” Gorman said, adding that the people at St. John’s could not have been more helpful.

“They welcomed [the senior center] with open arms and have been accommodating and made sure everything is squared away for us,” she added.

She also thanked Mayor Daniel Knapik for his support in helping the center relocate in two weeks.

After three years serving as interim director of the Westfield Senior Center, Gorman was officially appointed director at the July 7 City Council meeting. She said her official interview with the city’s human resource department, as part of her confirmation process, was on June 9, “the day before I realized we had to move.”

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