NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

October 23, 2012

$5,000 grant buoys senior center

Funds to support caregivers, grandparents, veterans

By Mac Cerullo Staff Writer
Newburyport Daily News

---- — AMESBURY — The Amesbury Council on Aging has received a $5,000 grant from Main Street Congregational Church that will fund two years of programming at the senior center.

The grant will support three areas of service offered by the senior center: caregiver support, veterans services and the grandparents raising grandchildren program.

The bulk of the funding will go toward the grandparents raising grandchildren program, which the senior center has offered in the past but has struggled to maintain.

Council on Aging Director Annmary Connor previously tried running the program herself, but couldn’t keep it going because she had too many other things to attend to on a daily basis.

“We sort of started it and it kind of fizzled,” Connor said.

Grandparents raising grandchildren will function as a monthly support group at the senior center where grandparents can come together in a confidential setting while the children play across the hall with volunteers.

Holly Shay, a local resident and licensed independent clinical social worker, will facilitate the group. Its first meeting will be on Nov. 8.

Connor emphasized that the program isn’t just for seniors, but for anyone who has a grandchild.

“That’s not an age thing, (being a) grandparent doesn’t mean they’re a senior,” Connor said. “It’s just a generational thing.”

Similarly, the veterans portion of the grant will go toward programming intended to help reduce stress and pain among veterans of all ages, whether for World War II veterans or for veterans returning from Iraq or Afghanistan. The programming will include stress management courses, pain management education and yoga, Connor said.

The third area that will benefit from the grant is the Amesbury Caregiver Essential program, which will bring educational speakers to the senior center and help provide new services related to stress relief and health advocacy to seniors.

The money was donated as part of the Main Street Congregational Church’s Mission Grant Fund, which aims to provide seed money to people within the community who want to set up or fund a “helping others” program, according to the church’s website.

Connor said receiving the grant was “huge” for the senior center, and she expressed her gratitude to Main Street Congregational Church for its support, dedication and investment in the center and its programming.

For more information, call the senior center at 978-388-8138.