Council on Aging Update

Friday May 28th, 2021 

I guess we could say that change comes with the territory. Sometimes we welcome it, sometimes not as much. Today I’m writing to you about a significant change for the Williamstown Council on Aging coming during the summer to come. 

At the end of July our wonderful outreach person, Marion Quinn-Jowett will leave us for the Land of Retirement. Marion came to us in 2011 just in time to help out during a major Town crisis-the loss of the Spruces in the wake of TS Irene. A disaster of epic proportions here, Marion jumped in, helped out and quickly became part of the scenery at the COA. Clearly we would not have gotten through that disaster as smoothly without Marion’s presence in the recovery/rebuild effort. As the years passed, Marion became a go-to person for information and referral in Williamstown. Her years of human service experience became invaluable to those who needed assistance in our community. She rarely said no, but she was always there when called upon. She will have served here at Harper for more than 10 years when she departs. That time folks, was filled with vibrant energy and a warm, caring personality. The good news is that she’s not going far away and we’ll still see her from time to time. Alas, she will not, however, be a part of our daily rituals. 

To succeed her, we’re bringing in someone already familiar to many WCOA citizens. Sarah Kline will join us on June 14 and shadow Marion for a couple weeks. Lately, Sarah has been in the role of Care Coordinator for Amedisys Health Care. Most recently, some will remember, she led us in the wreath making event last December, one of our first “non exercise” events inside Harper in months. Prior to her work at Amedisys, Sarah was the Admissions Director at Williamstown Commons. Remember all those food and educational events? The cooking series…? 

She’s shared programs and expertise with us here at Harper for a long time and is quite familiar with our activities. She’s helped out in other ways beyond her official role as well. In the beginning of the pandemic, when there was fear that a lethal virus lurked behind every tree, Sarah came here and volunteered to help us deliver groceries and hot meals 

to Town elders. She didn’t have to, but she came and pitched in. She was one of our community stars during this bleak period. 

Before her time at the Commons, she was Gailanne Cariddi’s Legislative Aide. She has also served as a social worker at North Adams Commons and while her children were young, ran the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program in North Adams. Lots of experience. If you’re around, stop by to say hello to Sarah and wish Marion a happy and fruitful retirement…

The RSVP program is offering FREE rides for Berkshire County residents for wellness appointments here in the Shire by simply calling to make an appointment 48 hours in advance. ‘Wheels for Wellness’ is the name of the new ride service for county residents of any age who need transportation to wellness-related activities like medical and social services appointments. Related activities- fitness classes, any kind of therapy appointments and of course, transport to vaccine sites are eligible as well. 

The program is a collaboration between RSVP, Berkshire Community Action Council, Berkshire Fallon Health Collaborative, CHP, Berkshire Interfaith Organizing, and BHS. For now, all riders have to wear masks and that’s ok, eventually this vestige of the new abnormal will go away too. Riders must be independent, ambulatory and able to get into and out of the vehicles without assistance. The number to call is 413-395-0109 and it’s “live” Monday through Friday 8:30AM to 4:00 PM. with actual rides available during the same time frame. The program starts Tuesday June 2nd, 2021 

The state of emergency instituted in Massachusetts back in March 2020 will officially end on June 15 and most restrictions on capacity and face coverings will be lifted on Saturday. They’ll still be in place for public transport, medical offices, visiting nursing homes, etc, but mostly GONE! Today Gov. Charlie Baker signed an executive order rescinding more than a year of pandemic protocols that restricted just about everything you can think of. We have been through a lot and all of us have worked very hard to get to this point. Some of the journey was frustrating beyond belief. We persevered and came through this. 

Still, there is a bit of work left to be done including on the vaccination front.. 

ExpressCare of Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC), is offering COVID vaccines next week from noon – 5:30 pm, Tuesday, June 1 – Friday, June 4. ExpressCare is located at 120 Hospital Drive in Bennington. Appointments are unnecessary, Covid-19 vaccines are available to everyone ages 12 and older regardless of state of residency. Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine is for those ages 12 – 18 and either Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson to everyone 18 and above. Anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. The phone number at SVMC is 802-442-6361. 

Have a peaceful Memorial Day weekend everyone. See you in June. Brian

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