Senior Advisory Committee
Block Island Residents’ Association President Joe Loya joined the Senior Advisory Committee’s meeting on April 20 to discuss ways BIRA could support them. BIRA conducted a survey of island residents recently, confirming, among other things, that the island residents are aging and shifting the demographics ever upward. As Loya explained: “We have to recognize that the older crowd are not the ‘other.’ They are us, and we’re in it together.”
SAC Co-chair Sandra Kelly mentioned the need to raise public awareness of how many people are in the senior age bracket, with needs that grow every year. Specifically, she
discussed the desire of seniors to stay on the island, with the ongoing need for caregiver support in order for people to stay in their own homes. Loya said he hopes the Block Island Residents Association can be a force to educate the public and influence awareness of the issues around aging.
Committee member Dottie Graham proposed sending the SAC budget information to the BIRA board, along with the dream projects they’ve been waiting on for too many years, all the while advising and advising and advising.
The budget report disclosed that the SAC funding from the State of Rhode Island has been used, as well as the Cares Grant. These monies provided some funding for the Senior
Rides Program, home safety supplies, the exercise classes, and senior meals. The SAC still has money in the budget to continue their programs through the end of the fiscal year, June 30, 2021.
Though the SAC provided a presentation to the Town Council requesting additional funding for the fiscal year starting July 1, their request was denied and they are back to the
original amount granted by the town. Loya suggested that the SAC identify a liaison to work with him on coordinating advocacy, cooperation, and support between the two groups, with the possibility to have a presentation by the Senior Advisory Committee at the BIRA board meeting. Loya concluded by mentioning that he hoped to continue to find more ways for education and exposure of senior issues to the island residents.
The requests for caregivers are ongoing, with Director of Human Services Maryann Seebeck seeking qualified candidates through the Block Island Bulletin Board. She has had some success and continues her efforts to recruit additional caregivers for the senior population.
The SAC has continued to offer virtual and online programs for seniors including Tai Chi classes with Physical Therapist Tom Hobin, and a Seated Strength Exercise Class taught by Robin Lewis.
In conjunction with the library, the SAC has a Memoir Writing Group, a Book Group Series, and their very popular Zoom program “Wednesdays at 4 in Our Kitchens.” A request
was just sent out via the BIBB for participants interested in sharing their favorite recipes – breads, pastries, breakfast dishes, dinner entrees, cocktails, and/or discussions of wines, cheeses and al fresco dining. Those interested in being featured in future episodes should contact Senior Coordinator Gloria Redlich.
The Senior Ride Service continues to operate and the SAC continues to make deliveries for the Lunch Bunch. There was a call for volunteers for upcoming deliveries for meals, a call which was quickly and joyfully answered by Judith Fucci.
Additionally, Redlich is still expanding the offerings, hoping to include a virtual program with the Contemporary Theatre Company of Wakefield, RI, in conjunction with the Island Free Library.
The meeting closed with an admonition to keep in contact with one another, and check up on each other, especially through the Neighbor-to-Neighbor program. There was also
broad consensus that by any and all means, everyone should get outside and enjoy the weather!
The next meeting of the Senior Advisory Committee is scheduled for Tuesday, May 18 at 9:30 a.m.