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I am writing to share with you the wonderful things our staff from the Pleasant Street Center has been doing to support our Reading senior community. We are a staff of 5, currently operating without a director but overseen by the town’s Administrator of Recreation, Veteran Affairs and Social Services.

Over the years, we have all built strong relationships with the seniors that attend our center on a regular basis.  We know each person by name, their stories and backgrounds.  It was hard on all of us to see our doors close back in March and we were concerned about our senior friends instructed to stay at home, in isolation.  One of the first things we did was implement a call system.  We wanted to be the ones to reach out and check on each and every senior in our community.  The town supplied us with cell phones so we could be easily accessible – the seniors knew they could reach us at any time on any day. We divided the list and started calling.  To date, we have made close to 3,000 phone interactions and we continue to call today and in the days ahead.

As a result of our outreach, we  identified numerous individuals in need of essential food. We partnered with the local Young Women’s League, the Leo Club and the Lions Club to collect non-perishable items including peanut butter, cereal, pasta, sauce and canned goods, fresh items such as breads and bananas, and hard-to-get items like toilet paper and paper towels.  We collected enough food and essentials to fill approximately 100 bags and have delivered to more than 50 seniors in need.  At the end of this month, we will receive USDA frozen meat boxes and distribute those to many needing seniors in our area in an effort to sustain them for a longer period of time.  In conjunction with our own food collection and distribution, our Case Manager continues to advocate for those in need of food pantry access/Meals on Wheels and ensuring  that those who are homebound and cannot get to the food pantry, receive  food delivery.

To assist those in financial distress, we collected and distributed gift cards to local restaurants and grocery stores totaling hundreds of dollars.

On May 6th, we attended the Town of Reading Mask Distribution event where we handed out approximately 1500 masks to our senior residents and vulnerable population.  We continue to personally deliver additional masks to those in need and to those unable to attend the event.  To date, we have delivered approximately 300 surgical and cloth masks to those in our town.

Moreover, we continue to make great efforts to connect with our seniors through email and our website by delivering them information on virtual programs such as our “Not Too Stuffy Book Club,” museum, concert and travel websites, made-easy tutorials for social media platforms like Facebook and Zoom, You Tube links to health and fitness recommended by our own instructors, exercise on Reading local cable channels, coffee & conversation via telephone, recipes, crossword puzzles, personal letters from our volunteers and instructors and more.  One staff member was even invited to and attended a socially distanced gathering held by a group of ladies that regularly attend the center.

These are just a few examples of what we are doing to help our seniors and show them how much we care. We continue to look for new ways to grow and expand our outreach and services.  For example, we anxiously await feedback from a survey we recently sent our seniors on virtual program interests, so we can work to provide greater and more accessible access to the types of programs they want.

We would like to thank MCOA for being a valuable resource for our center and for taking the time to read about all we are doing for our seniors during this Pandemic.

The Pleasant Street Center Staff

Massachusetts Councils
on Aging

116 Pleasant Street, Suite 306
Easthampton, MA 01027
Telephone: 413-527-6425
Fax: 413-527-7138