93 Winchester St. Brookline, MA 02446    617 . 730 . 2770    info@brooklineseniorcenter.org

Volunteering: Giving time, touching hearts

The Brookline Council on Aging and the Brookline Senior Center (BSC) are always happy to enlist new volunteers who can share their talents and program ideas.

Your contributions would enable us to expand the number and variety of high level programs and activities that are provided for all seniors in Brookline. If you would like to actively pursue volunteer service, please make an appointment with Patricia, the Volunteer Coordinator (617 730 2743) for an opportunity to learn more about the Senior Center & opportunities where you might best share your time and talent. We are always eager to hear new ideas & keep a list of volunteers for special events and future opportunities.

– – All volunteer content written by Patricia Burns


This month’s spotlighted opportunities include: Food Commodity program on 3rd Wednesday of each month – Russian interpreters afternoons and people able to help lift 30-35 lbs. in the morning, assistance for seniors with their SmartPhones on Wednesday afternoons 3-5, as well as audio and video interviewing of seniors after they complete a TRIPPS Transportation Challenge.

If you would like to apply for these or other volunteer opportunities at the Brookline Senior Center, please call Patricia, the Volunteer Coordinator @ 617 730 2743 or email her at pburns@brooklinema.gov  to make an appointment to talk about things you like to do, your skills and opportunities to volunteer at the BSC.

SHOP: “Students Helping Older People”

pic for SHOP



The S.H.O.P. Program has been a community service program at Brookline High School for many years. It is a win-win volunteer opportunity where students grocery shop for a senior in Brookline and seniors share their actual history and experience. It is a weekly to biweekly commitment that is usually shared with a student partner. It starts with visiting the elder’s home to get a grocery list and money, then shopping, and returning with the groceries.

In addition to getting the groceries for the senior, the most important part of this program is developing meaningfulintergenerational relationships. Some students have shopped for the same person throughout high school and consider ‘their senior’ an important part of their life.

When surveying seniors in the program, we receive overwhelmingly positive feedback about the students. Likewise, when doing follow-up with the students, either during annual orientation or from unsolicited comments, the students are extremely positive about their relationships with ‘their seniors’. One student continued to visit his senior regularly after she transferred to an assisted living facility where meals were provided and she no longer needed shopping!

The Brookline High School has a list of students eager to shop for seniors needing some help. If you or a senior you know would like student shopping help, please call Patricia, the Volunteer Coordinator at 617 730 2743 or email her at pburns@brooklinema.gov.

ANNUAL VOLUNTEER SURVEY: Your responses are important, are tabulated and the resulting data are used to support budget requests and for other fundraising efforts. The results of the 2017 survey include: 123 of 340 volunteers responses by March 23; 58 – an increase in number in new volunteers from last year; 94 of the 123 volunteers are between 60-97 years old; 44 of the 123 volunteers have been volunteering for 3-6 years; 34 of the volunteers have been volunteering for 7-20 years; most of the 123 volunteers heard about the opportunity from other volunteers or the TAB; the largest number of responding volunteers work at Food Distribution, the Craft Fair, Friday mailings or as COA Board Members; 51 volunteers also volunteer outside of the BSC – most helping family and/or friends or in their temple or church; and 20 volunteers also have paid jobs outside of the BSC.


Sherry Lee


If you want something done, ask a busy person.

Some of the jobs Sherry has done at the BSC are: the gift cart, Springwell lunches, special events, recycling toner and cartridges and bottles and aluminum foil from special event refreshments, helping Julie with program needs and the craft fair and participating in the Alzheimer’s Walk.

In addition to her many volunteer jobs at the BSC, Sherry also has helped with 1st Night, the Wine Expo, the Flower Show, the Boston Marathon, South Brookline Senior Coffee, Emergency Medical Corp, the Regional Alzheimer’s Walk and caring for her grandson.Sherry is also an Associate member of the Council on Aging.

When asked why she volunteers so much she replied, “I’m just a girl who can’t say no…well, almost”.Sherry said that one of the benefits is meeting people from all over the world. Sherry tries to schedule a big and pleasurable event each month… and, her activities at the BSC give her a lot of pleasure.


“One of our strengths is recruiting volunteers. We have 368 volunteers of all ages – 12 – 97 performing 462 activities. Many are active in more than one activity; many hold full time jobs; many have volunteered with us for ten years or more; and many volunteer elsewhere. These volunteers, most of whom are seniors themselves, donate the equivalent number of hours of more than 20 full-time staff. Our volunteers are here and in the community every day. We would have to close our doors if we had to go without their thousands of hours of dedicated work.”

Ruthann continues to ask that all of our volunteers add one more important job to their volunteering – being an ambassador for the Brookline Senior Center. She asks that we all be aware of new faces here or in our community – churches, synagogues, neighborhoods or social networks – and welcome and encourage seniors to come to the BSC.  Our volunteers know that the secret to longevity is active involvement and physical fitness.


When asked, “What Makes Volunteering at the BSC Meaningful?”, volunteers responded: helping people; learning; being useful; personal growth; meeting new friends; helping people new to the United States learn English; discussions; social aspects; and “It’s fun”.


Brookline Senior Center intergenerational volunteers were spotlighted on Wednesday, March 29 on BIG, the local TV channel. If you missed it, you can find the ½ hour program link on the BCAN website or on the BIG Facebook pagehttps://youtu.be/iDDCgi8vKCk. An article, ‘What Makes Brookline Council On Aging So Extraordinary?’ has been submitted and accepted for the Blue Cross Blue Shield Medex quarterly publication, Healthy Times. We will let you know when it will be published. Patricia also updates the volunteer pages of the Town and BSC websites and contributes to the BCAN Volunteer page monthly. She urges everyone to check these websites (www.brooklineseniorcenter.org/, www.brooklinema.gov/) and http://www.brooklinecan.org/. Brookline Senior Center volunteers were featured in an article in the April, 2016 issue of the fiftyplus advocate entitledVolunteering: A Work of Heart at the Brookline Senior Center. The article can be found on line at www.fiftyplusadvocate.com.


Ruthann indicated that this award is given to a volunteer who was nominated and exemplified sharing, giving and paying it forward. The 2016 awardwas presented to Muriel Stark. Ruthann outlined some of the many ways that Muriel has volunteered and most importantly her position as BSC ambassador as well as her “we’ll get through it” attitude. In addition to the certificate of award, Muriel was also given a lovely plant and a bowl of chocolates. Ruthann then announced the Community Partner Award that was given to Trader Joe’s this year. She thanked them for their weekly donation of flowers, produce and the festive Hawaiian luau event and encouraged all of us to thank them when we were in the store.


Stay tuned for next month’s feature article where we will publicly announce the list of nominees and the winners of these awards. All will be announced at the Annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon on April 5th.



SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Everyone) is administered by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs in partnership with Councils on Aging and other aging service access points. SHINE helps people on Medicare and other seniors understand complex insurance options. SHINE volunteer counselors educate and provide unbiased help to choose an insurance program best for the individual. Seniors interested in making an appointment with a BSC SHINE counselor – especially during the open enrollment period – should call 617 730 2777

SHINE trains counselors in a 2 days/week – 6 week course. Meetings to get support and meet with other counselors occur monthly. Once certified, you will be assigned to work 6 hours per week in a senior center or other public setting. If you are interested in becoming a certified counselor, call Dorene Nemeth, MetroWest Regional SHINE Director: 781 455 7555, ext. 202


Help a visually impaired person by reading or shopping with them. No special skills needed. Call Kyle Robidoux, Director of Volunteer Support Services, Mass Commission for the Blind – 617 926 4312.

The Brookline Senior Center is collaborating with the MA Commission for the Blind on a new grant to train vision impaired seniors on new technological equipment that has been installed in the BSC computer lab. Sassy, the new trainer is available by appointment on Wednesdays from 1-5 and most Thursdays.


The Brookline Emergency Food Bank needs donations of instant coffee and tea, sugar, oil, flour, spices, pasta, canned tomatoes and sauce, canned soup, beans, vegetables, fruit (low salt and low sugar) dry beans, healthy snacks for kids, granola bars, and fruit cups. They also need toiletries such as: shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer and sunscreen (not covered by SNAP).

Donations may be left in thebin under the table in the reception area at the Brookline Senior Center.


This Newton-based choral group focuses on performing and supporting the music of women composers. Concerts from November to May take place in Newton and Boston. Cappella Clausura would like to offer warm and welcoming Brookline Senior volunteers free admission to their concerts in exchange for helping to greet patrons, direct audience members to ticket lines, usher and hand out programs. Interested volunteers should contact Anne Kern @ manager@clausura.org or 617 993 0013.


Generations Incorporated is recruiting older adult volunteers to help improve reading skills for Kindergarten through 2nd grade students in classroom settings twice a week at either the Winship School in Brighton or the Lydon School in West Roxbury. To find out more about the program please call 617 423 6633 or email volunteerinfo@generations.org to RSVP

REAP  Retirement Engagement Alternatives Program

The REAP program for Brookline senior residents 55 or 60 and above (depending on the program) is designed for people who wish to remain engaged and active in the community while in retirement or partial retirement. The goal of this program is to enhance the retirement experience by linking participants with either part-time paid or volunteer work in the community or at the Brookline Senior Center (BSC) itself.

The BSC partners with several other local organizations to offer fulfilling and interesting opportunities. These include, but are not limited to: BrooklineCAN (BCAN), Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), Brookline Adult and Community Education, Executive Office of Elder Affairs and Various Brookline Town departments. In addition, opportunities exist for Tax Work-Off, and limited grant funded employment at the BSC for income qualified Brookline residents.

The REAP program provides the following free services: individual, confidential and free consultation around skills and interests, on-going skills based workshops and training for employment seekers, employer-employee matching service, consultation and matching for participants seeking meaningful volunteer opportunities and on-going opportunities to network and explore avenues and options for self-fulfillment in the retirement years.  To enroll or for more information, call 617 730 2767 or email Deidre at dwaxman@brooklinema.gov

Brookline seniors – Boomers & Beyond – are eligible to receive free individual help with resumes, cover letters and LinkedIn profiles as well as tips on phone, skype, in-person and mock interviews. To schedule an appointment, call Patricia at 617 730 2743 or email her at pburns@brooklinema.gov



Thursday, April 27

1:00 – 3:00

Join REAP and presenter Patricia Burns for this introductory workshop about LinkedIn for those who wish to learn about this online job search tool and how it can be used in your job search and transitional planning.

The workshop is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is required.

For more information or to register, please contact Patricia Burns @ 617 730 2743 or pburns@brooklinema.gov

–   –   –   –   –   –

The Brookline Council on Aging’s (COA) Senior Center is indisputably one of the most active centers in Massachusetts.The Brookline COA is a Town agency responsiblefor planning, coordinating and providing comprehensive services for Brookline area residents age 60 and over.We work with other Town agencies and community service providers to enhance the quality of life for our elders.The Brookline Senior Center (BSC) is a gathering place dedicated to enriching the aging experience by providing a diverse environment with a wide range of opportunities, programs and services (the majority of which are provided by volunteers) in the areas of health, learning, art, socialization, nutrition, and recreation.In addition, and perhaps more importantly, the Brookline COA provides Brookline area seniors a strong and inviting communityin which to meet new friends, socialize, volunteer and stay active.

Quote from Ruthann Dobek, Director: “Our goal is to help seniors maintain their independence and continue to be or become active members of their community.We believe wholeheartedly in enhancing growth, dignity and a sense of belonging while encouraging individual contributions and the sharing of diverse life experiences.The Senior Center welcomes all who walk through our doors, regardless of age, income, disability, ethnic, religious or sexual orientation.

One of our strengths is recruiting volunteers. We have >343 volunteers of all ages – 12 – 96 performing 462 activities.Many are active in more than one activity; many have volunteered with us for ten years or more. These volunteers, most of whom are seniors themselves, donate the equivalent number of hours of more than 20 full-time staff. Without our volunteers who execute the programs, the BSC could not provide the number and variety of programs and activities that we offer to seniors”

Assistance Programs: Social workers and volunteers provide help with accessing Fuel Assistance, SNAP, AARP Tax Preparation and Information and Referral. They also provide legal assistance (BLAB), assistance with identifying Medicare supplement options (SHINE), Job Search Support with individual appointments and workshops (REAP),Home and Escort Linkage Program (HELP), Equipment Loan Program (ELF), Real Estate Tax Workoff Program (TAP), Discount Taxi Coupon Program (BETS), the Elder Resource Guide, and the Caregivers’ Respite Program.

Exercise and Fitness: Our on-site fully equipped, supervised Fitness Center provides– Mat & Chair Yoga, Fexibility, Resistance Training & Balance and Aging Backwards as well as individual sessions. In addition, Tuesday Dance Party, Zumba Gold, Tai Chi, Solemates Walking Club, Ping Pong, Strength Training for Seniors, Senior Stretch, Exercise for Health &Rejuvenation and Arthritis Exercise provide exercise/fitness options for every taste and ability.

Health: Programs to support seniors’ health at the Brookline COA include: Podiatry Clinic, Memory Café, Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar and Hearing screenings, as well as Reiki and Acupuncture. Health support includes: Ask a Geriatrician, Ask a Nurse, Low Vision Group and a Health Coach. Talks on Diabetes, Blood Pressure, Aphasia and Fall Prevention are also offered.

Food and Nutrition: Programs to assure that no Brookline area senior goes to bed hungry include our weekly Tuesday Food Pantry with donations from Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and local bakeries, Monday-Friday hot and cold lunches provided by Springwell, the monthly Greater Boston Food Bank Federal Food Commodity program providing shelf stable food to 72 low income seniors and the SHOP Program where Brookline High School students shop for seniors as part of their community service requirement.

Arts & Crafts: Programs include: Quilting, Beading, Knitting & Crocheting, Flower Arranging, Basic Drawing, Water Color, Still Life Workshop, Art for Pleasure, exhibits in the Brookline Senior Center Gallery supporting local artists and our Annual Holiday Craft Fair.

Entertainment: Tuesday Movies, Easy Travel, Theatre Club, Senior Chorus, Ukulele Group, Coolidge Corner Community Chorus, Swing Band, Chess, Mah Jong (US & Chinese), Scrabble, Bridge, Canasta and Bingo as well as the Let’s Go Out To Lunch Bunch and the LGBT Out 2 Lunch Bunch, concerts and theater productions and many other special events such as ‘Genius of George Gershwin’ and ‘Dance Caliente’.

Learning: ESL Conversation, Spanish Immersion, French Conversation, Lyudmilla’s Group, Current Events Discussion, Yuri’s Group, One-On-One Computer and Open Computer Lab, A Taste of Poetry, the Book Discussion Group, Living Our Values and Telling Our Story.

Support: Various Support Groups provided by social workers and volunteers throughout the year include: Bereavement Support, Job Search Support, Depression Support, Grandparent Alienation Support, Retired Men’s Club, Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support, and the Low Vision Support groups.