The City of Chicopee established the Council on Aging in 1958 under MGL Chapter 40, Section 8B. The council consisted of local citizens & city officials. In 1974, the ordinance was changed to state that the Council be comprised of citizens of various ages & backgrounds. They were to be appointed by the mayor & confirmed by the Board of Aldermen. As it stands today, these 15 individuals are strongly dedicated to the needs of our aging population.
Self help groups, special events, & inter-generational programs have resulted in many increased opportunities for older adults. Volunteers are recruited to serve in the center & in the community at large. This rich, varied approach has made the Senior Center & Council on Aging one of the premier centers in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Wellness Health Center
Since 1986, the Wellness Health Center has continually grown through the use of federal and state grants. It started as available one morning per week, & is now three mornings per week with an additional three hours of community nursing per week. It is recognized as a model throughout the aging network. In 2007, the Council received the Innovator of the Year Award from Massachusetts Councils on Aging for their wellness programming. Open Monday & Wednesday 8 a.m. - 1 p.m. & Friday 8 a.m. - 12 p.m.
In 1981, the Senior Times newsletter was printed for the first time. In October, 1987, the practice of mailing the newsletter to every elder household began. Almost 10,000 copies are sent on a bimonthly basis. The name was subsequently changed to Life Times to better fit the image of the growing aging population.
Meal Site ProgramSince 1990 RiverMills Center has served as a congregate meal site for WestMass Elder Care. Lunches are served Monday through Friday at 11:30 a.m. in the Garden Room. A donation of $2.25 per meal is suggested. A team of volunteers serves the meals, which on average draws 75 diners daily. Find the monthly lunch menu here.
Senior Companion Program
In 1988, the Senior Companion Program was started in conjunction with the Valley Opportunity Council (VOC). The VOC matches senior companions, age 55 & older, with frail elders within the community. The senior volunteer helps the elder with medical appointments, grocery shopping, respite for family members, & companionship. For more information, contact Lenora Chapdelaine at VOC at 612-0229, or RiverMills Social Services Coordinator Laurene Kendall at 534-3698, ext. 118.
"Grandparents as Parents" Program
In 1995, the council received a small Incentive Grant to start the Grandparents as Parents Program. A Brookdale Foundation Group Grant provided for an additional two years of funding as well as training. In 1999 the Executive Office of Elder Affairs, with assistance by Senator Michael Knapik, provided $20,000 to further develop this program.
The Council received their first van through the PVTA in 1989. The Council now operates two vans & four cars to provide transportation to the center for: activities, services to other locations within the city, & neighboring medical facilities. The city provides two part-time paid drivers. A pool of 15 volunteer drivers provide about 11,000 rides each year.