STOCKBRIDGE — In a town where nearly half of the year-round residents are 60 or older, the grand reopening of the Senior Center this past week was especially welcome.
The center, run by the Council on Aging on the lower level of the Town Offices, had been sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic for the past 30 months.
On Wednesday, a lunchtime celebration catered by Mazzeo’s Ristorante attracted nearly 100 seniors, said Chris McCarthy, chairwoman of the council. She organized the event with Town Administrator Michael Canales and coordinator Theresa Zanetti, the administrative assistant for the Select Board and Canales.
“The goal is to get people socializing again, get them out of their homes, getting them back together to seeing their friends, acquaintances and other people,” he said. “We know that during COVID, a lot of people shut themselves in.”
Only limited programming had been provided during the pandemic with no social functions, he pointed out. “We call this ‘a New Beginning,’ following a soft reopening during the summer with yoga programming and similar classes,” Canales said.”This is trying to create a sense of unity in the town, bringing residents together to the various Senior Center programs.”
Up and running again in addition to several yoga classes are classic bingo and a new offering for town residents — a luncheon on the third Wednesday of each month. Guest speakers will be included, with a representative of the Stockbridge Police Department scheduled for Oct. 19 to discuss public safety issues. Future topics will include history and the workings of various town offices such as the Board of Assessors.
The town participates in the new, year-round South County micro-transit Cooperative Ride Program, offering transportation on demand for residents of Great Barrington, Egremont and Stockbridge, partially funded by a $93,000 federal grant.
The Stockbridge website, currently being revamped, includes information on Council of Aging programs on a dedicated page. Also, there will be an email blast and a quarterly newsletter on scheduled programs.
“We want to make sure we’re trying to reach seniors in many different ways to present the programming for health-related and social activities,” Canales noted.
The Senior Center is open to all full-time and part-time residents 60 and older. “We want everybody down here, taking part in the programming,” he said. “We’re excited to seek it back up and running.”