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Senior Solutions, Council on Aging for Southeastern Vermont, wishes to thank all the businesses and people who contributed to the success of our first virtual silent auction. The item donors, bidders, staff and volunteers all made it possible to raise the $1,889 that will go to help support the Volunteer Visitor program activities. Our wonderful volunteers are tireless in their efforts to maintain connections with their partners who otherwise would be homebound and isolated. The bonds of friendship they have established have carried their partners and themselves through one of the most trying and dangerous pandemics in recent history. Your help in supporting our auction has gone a long way in helping to find ways to say a proper “Thank You” to them.

Now we are experiencing an overwhelming increase in requests for our Volunteer Visitors from the Brattleboro, Springfield, and Windsor communities. The enforced isolation of the past year has contributed to the remote and limited contact we have had with friends and relatives. Many of us are not fortunate enough to be able to experience renewed contact and instead feel even more closed off because of physical infirmities, social isolation, or geography. The result is an increase in the need for volunteers who are willing to reach out to those who need human connections most. Without additional volunteers our ability to serve those who are not mobile or have no access to transportation is not sustainable. Won’t you please call our HelpLine at 802-885-2669 and ask to be a volunteer?

Here is some good news: The Gathering Place, Adult Day Services in Brattleboro, is announcing its re-opening this June! Executive Director Maggie Lewis will give us updates as the time approaches. This important service is one of the community pieces to providing care and support to our aging adults and their caregivers. More good news: We now are holding office hours in Windsor, Vermont for two hours every Friday. Yes, from 10 a.m. to noon a staff member will be at the Windsor Resource Center offering ways to boost your budget. Set up an appointment by calling 802-773-7917. Learn about the many ways the National Council on Aging (NCOA) benefits can leave more money in the pockets of adults over 60.

In addition, many of our Community Cares Groups have been regularly providing rides to health care appointments and other important errands for their neighbors. Call our HelpLine at 802-885-2669 to find a Cares Group in your area. Talk about being busy – the Senior Centers have started to stage re-openings. Each center has a different level of accessibility depending on their situation. Some are still only providing workspace to fill Meals on Wheels deliveries while others have begun opening for limited occupancy for certain programs. All of them worked hard to stay connected and provided Zoom classes plus outdoor and on-line activities. It has been an endurance test for many facilities and they have proven their dedication and creativity even with challenges and reduced resources.

Working at Senior Solutions has provided me with an opportunity to observe some of the best people I have ever had the privilege to know. How individuals and organizations have pulled together for the benefit of others has been an inspiration! I want to thank everyone we have been associated with. I am honored to be part of the Council on Aging for Southeastern Vermont. We serve older adults and disabled individuals who are entitled to certain programs and benefits under the Older Americans Act (OAA). Our person-centered approach means that we do what our clients wishes are. We respect our clients’ choices. All services are free and we don’t sell any insurance products.

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The State of Vermont distributes OAA funds under the Vermont Department of Aging and Independent Living. This funding and other funding through grants and state programs enable us to connect adults over 60 or on Medicare with programs that are free and help us all save money and access healthy living benefits. Medicare savings on prescription drugs, the HomeMeds assessment to eliminate dangerous inter-actions, Options Counseling, National Council on Aging (NCOA) Benefits, Caregiver Respite grants, Access to devices for connectivity to healthcare and family, Medicaid – Choices for Care, Fuel Assistance (LiHeap), Vet to Vet and Friendly Visitors, Nutrition (Meals on Wheels and 3Squares), Health and Wellness programs, and Caregiver Resources are just some of the many ways we can inform the aging public of ways to preserve their hard earned savings and still maintain a healthy life.

Check out the latest Keeping Up with Senior Solutions programs on Brattleboro Community TV (BCTV). Episodes 15 and 16 are available on You Tube, BCTV’s website, the www.seniorsolutionsvt.org site, or just Google the show.

Episode 16 link: https://www.brattleborotv.org/keeping-senior-solutions/ep-16-gary-hilliard

Throughout COVID-19 great lessons have been learned and even greater relationships have been formed which will continue to carry us forward. So, get vaccinated and we will see you in the future!

Joann Erenhouse, Esq., is the community relations director for Senior Solutions, from the Council on Aging for Southeastern Vermont.