September 19, 2020

So Much on Offer at Lymes’ Senior Center — Even When It’s Closed!

Lymes’ Senior Center Board Chair Jeri Baker (right) and Carole Diffley (left), the Center’s Kitchen Manager, take some well-deserved time out while helping at the Drive-Thru Pick-Up Parade held at the Center last month.

LYME/OLD LYME — September is National Senior Center Appreciation Month and Jeri Baker, who serves as chair of the Lymes’ Senior Center Board of Directors, would like the communities of Lyme and Old Lyme to celebrate the fact that they have a thriving, buoyant Senior Center in their midst.

She is quick to point out, however, that this is in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has created major challenges for the Center since March of this year in terms of both its danger to the health of seniors and the fact the Center has been forced to close because of it.

Lymes Senior Center Director Stephanie Gould

Baker comments, “It is hard to believe that there could be much to celebrate during this pandemic; but under the tireless efforts of Director Stephanie Gould, the Lymes’ Senior Center is still a huge part of the lives of seniors in our communities.” 

She explains, “It is now a model virtual world of opportunities and vital information.  Stephanie, our volunteers and staff maintain constant contact with our members online and in person through calls and mailings.” 

Asked to expand on the ways in which the Center has kept engaged with the Lyme-Old Lyme senior community during its closure, Baker notes that the center currently offers 15-23 exercise classes weekly, and these are also open to the greater communities regardless of membership.  Over 200 residents participate at this point.

She also notes that with a monthly calendar collaboration with other centers throughout the state, 75 additional free programs are also offered through Zoom. These offers include lectures, entertainment, virtual games, discussions, and other group activities in an effort to keep or seniors connected and entertained.  

Baker is effusive in her praise for how Gould has responded to the pandemic, saying, “At the very beginning of the pandemic and once the center physically closed, Stephanie sprang into action to conduct outreach to our members, especially those most vulnerable and who may not have online access.”

Baker adds, “Right now, volunteers, staff and the director personally keep in touch with weekly calls to 200 seniors through this effort and 70 more through direct mailing,” and in fact, online communications, personal contacts and the Center’s newsletter reach all members every month at minimum.

Another event that sparked a really positive response happened in August. Baker explains, “Last month we held a Drive-Thru Pick-Up Parade, at which seniors, who were required to followed all safety precautions, drove around the building to greet us as we dropped several useful and entertaining items into a bag for them. Some members even dressed up and decorated their cars.” 

Baker says enthusiastically, “This was the first in-person event held since the pandemic started, and it was such a pleasure to see so many friendly faces!”

The exterior of the Lymes’ Senior Center on Town Woods Rd. in Old Lyme.

There are numerous other ways that the Center is helping its members and these include volunteers, who deliver books and puzzles to members. Another is a table outside the Senior Center building, which has free books, puzzles, magazines, word circle and crossword puzzle packets for seniors to pick up and borrow.

And a third is that, in conjunction with the Estuary Council of Seniors, Lymes’ Senior Center continues to serve over 50 residents weekly through their Meals on Wheels and “Grab and Go” food curbside program. 

Baker concludes positively, “Since there is no projected reopening for the Center at this time, we will maintain our efforts and expand them as well to reach all members and to inform the greater community about our work.” 

Editor’s Note: For more information about the Center and all the opportunities it offers, contact Lymes’ Senior Center Director Stephanie Gould at 860 434-1605 ext. 240 or seniorcenter@oldlyme-ct.gov. Reach Jeri Baker, Chair of the Lymes’ Senior Center Board of Directors, at 860 434-0781 or Jbaker262@comcast.net.

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Comments

  1. Diana Seckla says

    A GREAT article and Stephanie’s commitment to the center deserves no small amount of grateful appreciation for her dedication to us all. Also a truly dedicated volunteer is Jeri Baker as well as many others. The community is fortunate to have such a team!

  2. Mary Jo Nosal says

    Diana is so right!
    We have a treasure in the Center and it is being nurtured by Director Stephanie Gould and Board Chair, Jeri Baker. Even during the pandemic, this team, an involved Board, and tireless volunteers, work hard to support our seniors.
    Thanks for this article, Lymeline.

  3. Thank you for all you are doing to keep us mentally and physically stimulated!
    KBar

    tus

  4. Jacqueline B Roberts says

    The Senior Center has been a place of refuge for us older women (and men). Right now it feels as if our refuge center is lost to us. But, that isn’t really so. Stephanie has been untiring in her quest to keep us busy with online activities. She has wonderfully new ideas and tries to implement them and has been successful. Jeri Baker is another tireless worker for the Senior Center. I’m in awe of both women’s endless enthusiasm and dedication to the Center. Looking forward, though, to having the Center open again. I miss it!

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