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Senior Center director reflects as he prepares to leave Agawam

Date: 9/20/2023

AGAWAM — Michael Squindo, executive director of the Agawam Senior Center, is preparing to bid farewell. Squindo is set to begin his new role at the Westfield Senior Center on Oct. 10.

The Westfield City Council approved Squindo’s appointment during a Sept. 7 meeting. He gained the support of Tina Gorman, the outgoing and longtime Westfield executive director.

Squindo said his current job has grown as the Agawam Senior Center added services during his tenure, which began in September 2017. He said senior transportation was a key area of focus for him in Agawam.

“Coming into Agawam, I knew that transportation has been an identified area of need for seniors in the Greater Springfield region for over a decade,” he said.

The impact on senior well-being was considerable, with limited public transportation options in Agawam.

Squindo said he is proud to have developed the “All Aboard!” transportation program.

“When I began in Agawam, we ran a single vehicle for about half the week. Six years later, thanks to a partnership with PVTA and grant funding through MassDOT, we provide over 5,000 rides a year to over 200 individuals,” he said.

Asked about advice for his successor, Squindo said he or she should “trust in their own decisions and experience.” He believes two individuals will never run the Agawam Senior Center similarly, but that is part of the organization’s evolution.

The Senior Center’s mission has evolved over Squindo’s career. He noted that the centers are now perceived more as a “resource hub” than a “home away from home” for seniors.

“We are seeing a different generation of seniors than when I started in the network 10 years ago,” Squindo added.

Squindo said his time with the Agawam Council on Aging can be summarized with a quote from Robin Sharma: “Change is hard at first, messy in the middle, and gorgeous at the end.” He expressed gratitude for the experiences Agawam provided and hoped he positively impacted residents, particularly seniors.

Agawam Mayor William Sapelli thanked Squindo for his service to the Senior Center and the community.

“Mike is a very detail-oriented individual who works hard. Especially during the pandemic, he saw an opportunity for the seniors with grab-and-go meals,” Sapelli said. The program enabled seniors who couldn’t come inside due to health risks to receive meals.

The mayor stressed the importance of socialization for older adults and acknowledged that while the center encourages in-person visits, it’s not always possible for some.

Sapelli also commended Squindo’s expansion of transportation options. “This helps seniors who no longer drive, or don’t feel comfortable doing so, get to their essential appointments, whether for a doctor, dentist, or even shopping,” he said.

He said he hopes to have a job description written to start advertising for Squindo’s replacement by the third week of September.

Sapelli said the Senior Center at 954 Main St., Agawam, is considered a standard-setter for the region, with its innovative features and layout serving as a model for other communities. The center opened in 2009.

Sapelli remarked on the center’s reputation, “We often get asked by other communities to come and look at our Senior Center. It’s just laid out well and addresses the needs of seniors, whether it’s the billiard room, the conference rooms, the garden, the cafeteria with a stage, or the fitness area.”

Squindo’s salary and contract details for the Westfield post were still under negotiation as The Reminder went to press. The salary range in Westfield was listed as $77,988 to $102,967 and includes a three-year contract.

Before coming to Agawam, Squindo served as an outreach coordinator for the Longmeadow Council on Aging for two years. He also continues to serve on the Wilbraham Select Board.