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Dedicated seniors bringing new center to life

Many members of the Friends of the Agawam Senior Center, the Agawam City Council and other town officials participated in the groundbreaking of the new Senior Center on Main Street last week. Reminder Publications photo by Katelyn Gendron
By Katelyn Gendron

Reminder Assistant Editor

AGAWAM The late Cathy Cote had a vision, a dream to see the construction of a new Senior Center come to fruition for the growing senior population in Agawam.

Finally after the 12-year battle for a new Senior Center that dream is slowly becoming a reality even after her death last year from cancer

Her husband, Emile Cote, president of the Friends of the Agawam Senior Center was anxious to begin the construction and carried two shovels, one for himself and one in honor of his beloved wife.

"The sun is coming out now and that's Cathy shining down on us," he said at the cloud-covered groundbreaking ceremony. "I am so thrilled for her and all of the fundraising I do is in her name."

Thus far the Friends of the Agawam Senior Center has raised $225,000 for furnishings in the new facility. He said he continues his wife's work in order to see her legacy become a reality.

"She was my right hand person," he said.

He added that Cathy was involved with the Senior Center in many capacities such as secretary of the Friends of the Agawam Senior Center and serving on the Building Committee.

"I met her at the Senior Center," Cote said. "She came across the dining room and I said, 'She's the one for me.' Two months later we were dating and one year later we were married."

This was a love that bloomed late in life. Emile said he was 70 years old and Cathy was 66, when they were married in 2003, and nothing made them happier.

"She was a very intelligent woman and very motivated and active and wanted to make things happen," Joan Linnehan, director of the Agawam Senior Center said of Cathy. "Her legacy was to have this center built and we're thrilled this is going to come true."

The new multimillion-dollar facility on Main Street is scheduled for completion in 18 months. The town has bonded $6.3 million for the project and according to George Bitzas, Agawam City Councilor, the town is pushing for a more expedient, under-budget completion.

The new facility will be twice the size of the current location on Meadowbrook Manor. The new two-story Senior Center will have larger, separate rooms for every activity such as arts and crafts, a library quiet area, billiard room, exercise room, health suite and computer room.

"It's going to be marvelous," Linnehan said about the increased space in the new facility. She said that lack of space is a huge problem at the current center therefore not allowing them to host as many programs and activities.

Bitzas said that the current facility serves over 200 people but that the larger Senior Center will allow greater participation.

"I am extremely honored, pleased and proud that today is the beginning and the end of a long-awaited, overdue project," Richard Cohen, mayor of Agawam said at the groundbreaking. "This will be a state-of-the-art facility that will meet the needs of our seniors well into the future."

Robert Magovern, vice president of the Agawam City Council, noted that while the Cot s have lead the way in several aspects of this project, many have been involved in it's road to completion.

"With people like Emile behind it he wouldn't let anybody sleep at the switch on this one," he said.

Magovern added that this new, larger facility will allow seniors to more fully enjoy their retirement years.

"This has been a long and tedious process," Richard Theroux, Agawam City Clerk and chairman of the Building Committee, said. "And this is not without the financial responsibility of our community but this will make our community a better place to live."