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Happy October! In celebration of Indigenous People’s Day, the Senior Center will be closed on Monday, October 10th.

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Mission, History, and Annual Report

Mission

We provide a range of programs and services in health, arts, nutrition and recreation. Our goal is helping people maintain their independence so they continue to be active members of the community. We believe in enhancing growth and a sense of belonging while encouraging individual contribution and the sharing of life experiences. 

Our teachers, social workers and volunteers provide instruction, assistance and friendship eight hours a day, five days a week. We can’t think of a better way to help people stay in their homes than coming out to join our programs.

The Center welcomes everyone regardless of age, income, disability, sexual, ethnic or religious background. We recognize all our program collaborators and are grateful for their support.  Whatever your interests, get to know us. Stay connected with our programs and services.  We’re here to help fill your days with creative activities and new friends whether it’s exercising, volunteering or learning something new. Our gym has new gear and great staff. Stop in 8:30am – 4:30pm and take a hike, dance, lift weights, walk, and even yoga.  For every minute you exercise, you add seven minutes to your life, so says Harvard School of Public Health.

The Council on Aging and the Brookline Senior Center

The Council on Aging is a municipal department of the Town of Brookline, responsible for providing services to Brookline’s older adults. The Senior Center is the building where programs and services take place. Then there is the Brookline Multi-Service Senior Center Corporation. That’s our official name for the non-profit that raises funds. The nonprofit is a 501(c)(3) entity responsible for supplementing the Town’s budget (the official name being unwieldy, we accept checks made out to the Brookline Senior Center). The Town’s budget currently covers only 69% of our total spending.

In FY22, our state, federal, and private funding totaled $459,117- currently funding 3 full-time and 14 part-time positions.

Items supported by fundraising include purchase of new vans, van driver salary,

fitness programs, Fitness Coordinator salary, many fitness classes, food (special lunches & coffee), printing of Resource Guide, Ask a Geriatrician and other publications, many supplies and promotional items, and programs (this year, $20K has gone toward programs). The subsidy of programs keeps The Brookline Senior Center affordable and accessible for all. 

31% of our budget
comes from you.

History

Brookline real estate developer Roger Stern donated the land on Winchester Street in 1995. Later that year Town Meeting voted to accept the gift and began planning the building. A year later Childs, Bertman & Tseckares was chosen to provide design services. In 1999 Town Meeting authorized $2.7 million in bonds to cover the construction. The Federal Community Development Block Grants program covered the remaining $1.6 million. The Center opened in 2001.

Today

The programs and services provided by the professional staff have grown. Hundreds of people visit each day to finish an art project, stay in shape, meet with friends, play bridge, see a social worker, work in the computer lab and read in the library.  We are a community center: a place to make good friends, find something worthwhile to do, and where you can give back in a way that fosters a sense of belonging.

2021 Annual Report to the Town of Brookline

The Brookline Council on Aging is a resource for residents over 60. Our mission is providing social services that allow people to remain independent. We operate the Senior Center five days a week with some evening and weekend programs.

Services

  • Case management, mental health support
  • Clutter consult/ Hoarding Task Force
  • Home care: meal prep, errands, cleaning, shopping
  • Income tax prep, job search, computer skills, property tax work off
  • Health: blood pressure, podiatry, hearing, flu clinic
  • Vibrant Assistive program for the blind
  • Legal clinic
  • Advocacy
  • Transportation: taxi discounts, bus, van, TRIPPS, rides to eye appointments, ride sharing
  • Fuel assistance
  • Advocacy: SHINE counseling, SNAP food stamps
  • Food pantry, food commodity program, daily lunch
  • Fitness center
  • Medical equipment loans
  • Memory café
  • Support groups: bereavement, Alzheimer’s, mindfulness
  • Monthly Newsletter, Elder Resource Guide
  • Educational and recreational programming

The Virus Continues

The COVID-19 pandemic continued its grip on the nation and Town. The Senior Center was open for essential services: social work, transportation, meals and grocery shopping. The Council on Aging hosted several vaccine clinics at the Brookline Senior Center. In addition, our staff provided administrative support with Town Hall vaccine clinics, Brookline Housing Authority vaccine clinics, and a special clinic for home-bound older adults. The COA also provided transportation to all vaccine sites.

All The Lonely People

“All The Lonely People,” a documentary film exploring the troubling increase of chronic loneliness and social isolation affecting people throughout the world, had its first worldwide screening at a benefit showing at Brookline’s Coolidge Corner Theatre on Thursday, December 9, 2021. In order to reach the greatest audience and remain safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, the screening was both in-person and virtual with over 500 attendees.

Director Stu Maddux and Producer Joe Applebaum have gathered personal stories of chronic loneliness affecting people everywhere. They explore unique solutions and programs that are helping to reduce social isolation and build community. The COA, along with BrooklineCAN and other community organizations, are continuing to work on the issue of social isolation and loneliness. Director Maddux states, “Social isolation is a danger to health, comparable to the risks of smoking, high blood pressure and obesity. COVID-19 has increased the epidemic of social isolation and loneliness worldwide.” The premier screening of “All The Lonely People” included Q&A with Maddux and Applebaum. All proceeds from this benefit showing supported local initiatives designed to ease social isolation and loneliness, as well as a national social impact campaign.

Shut Down Ageism! – Find Your Voice

One of the Council on Aging’s themes for the year was educating the public on ageism and its impact on older adults. The non-profit Board President, Betsy Pollock, spoke to various boards, commissions, and groups about the negative impact of ageism and how all have a role in overcoming ageism and helping Brookline’s older adults live dignified and productive lives.

Tax Work-Off Program

Tax work-off made its priority fighting social isolation. Participants pivoted from on-site work at Town Hall and the Senior Center to making regular wellness check phone calls. This was a win-win, as participants were able to complete their hours and assist socially isolated older adults during the pandemic’s extended stay-at-home requirements. Longtime Coordinator, Deidre Waxman, retired in June.

HELP

H.E.L.P celebrated its 34th anniversary as a homemaker service that finds trained workers to assist with meal preparation, errands, cleaning and companionship. This year we focused on grocery shopping because of the pandemic.

Volunteers

Volunteers make our work possible. Sadly, the annual Volunteer Luncheon was cancelled due to COVID-19. Our volunteers were essential to our operation during the pandemic, with a special acknowledgement of the AARP tax volunteers, the daily grab-and-go lunch volunteers, and those who made phone calls. Our devoted team offered assistance wherever they could to keep programming and services vibrant.

  • 471 volunteers teach classes along with staffing the food insecurity programs and reception. They are also board members and advisors.
  • Volunteer Coordinator, Patricia Burns, retired in January.

BCAN (Brookline Community Aging Network)

BrooklineCAN (Brookline Community Aging Network)

BrooklineCAN promotes services and activities that make Brookline an even better place to age gracefully. http://www.BrooklineCan.org

  • The Age Friendly Business campaign recognizes merchants who are hospitable to older people.
  • BrooklineCAN offered several virtual forums on coping with COVID-19, as well as the annual Candidate’s Forum.

Budget

The Town provides 70% of the operating budget. $95,000 was restored to our budget.

  • The Council, with help from its nonprofit, the Brookline Multi Service Senior Center Corporation, supplements the balance with federal, state and private grants along with donations and proceeds from the Annual Benefit.
  • The state continues funding the COA at $12 per elder.

Grants

  • Community Development Block Grants support subsidized transportation options including rideshare. We received funding from the COVID-19 CARES Act to address critical needs of grocery shopping and food insecurity.
  • One family foundation underwrites the Drawing for Pleasure class, another supports monthly birthday parties, and a third pays for the Volunteer Recognition.
  • TRIPPS received a small grant from Metropolitan Area Planning Council for medical transportation, and another grant from MassDOT- Digital Mobility Mentorship Program.
  • Grants from ITN America provide free rides to eye appointments.
  • The Alzheimer’s Respite program, championed by State Senator Cynthia Creem receives earmarked funding from the state budget to provide families with much needed respite for those struggling with caring for loved ones at home.
  • This year Senator Creem also provided an earmark for the Brookline Restaurant Program. The COA partnered with the Brookline Chamber of Commerce and Brookline Food Pantry to purchase and provide delicious restaurant meals from local businesses.

Fundraising

Our main focus for fundraising has been transportation, which gets most of its support from the Autumn Benefit. This year COVID-19 derailed in-person events but not the community’s support.

  • We had a successful Autumn Benefit “No-Gala.”
  • The Brookline Rotary provides for the vans. Brookline Elks sponsored aThanksgiving meal. The driver’s salary is covered by our nonprofit.

Program Highlights

In June we reopened the Senior Center for programming. We continued to offer a mix of both online and in-person programming. The public expressed a desire to maintain a hybrid model.

  • Virtual Computer One-on-One Assistance
  • Weekly Zoom Exercise Classes
  • Mei Mei’s Stir Fry Cooking Demonstration
  • Memory Connections Café
  • Virtual Programming:
    • Brookline Bees, French Conversation, Book Discussion Groups, Living Our Values, Current Events, Dance Party, Online Mindfulness Practice, Zumba, Let Your Yoga Dance, Dance fitness/Yoga dance combo
  • Spanish Immersion Music Class
  • Chess programing
  • Opening to Grief: Finding your Way from Loss to Peace
  • Medicare Wellness Webinars with Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • Identity Theft and Fraud Prevention
  • How Seniors Can Continue to Live Fulfilled Happy Lives Despite the Challenges of Aging and COVID-19 with Katherine Esty
  • Coping with the Holidays During COVID-19
  • Short Story
  • Craft Along Kits with the Brookline Public Library
  • Spirituality and Mental Health Discussion Series
  • Thanksgiving Lunch
  • BrooklineCAN Online Election Forum
  • “The Bubbe Diaries” Talk with Paula Span
  • “Ducks on Parade” Talk
  • Intersectionality in the LGBTQ Community Pastels Workshop with Greg Maichack
  • ArtMatters
  • Brookline Historical Society
  • Death Café
  • Pickleball
  • Chinese Lunar New Year
  • Alternative Transportation Options and Exploring Driver Retirement with the RMV
  • Let’s Talk Transportation

COA Board

The Council on Aging successfully provided both in-person and remote meetings starting in September.

  • New Associate Members of the Council are Jennie Chan and Rina Jacobson.
  • Yolanda Rodriguez continues as Chair of the Council with Judith Chasin as Vice-Chair.

Our success is due to the dedication of staff, volunteers and our board. We’re grateful to everyone who helps us make Brookline a desirable place to live. We look forward to enriching our services and invite the community to get involved.