To the editor:

On Wednesday, April 28, the Friends of the Newburyport Council on Aging kicked off a yearlong celebration, having reached their “Silver Anniversary.”

The kickoff event was held via a remote Zoom meeting with an “all star” group of speakers who had a significant role in getting the Friends started, nurtured and supported through the years. An opportunity to look back. 

The group of speakers was led off by Roseann Robillard, our recently retired 27-year director of the COA. She led us through a history of the formative years, the key events and individuals whose support and advocacy sustained the group. She was the catalyst and inspiration — always with the welfare of the area seniors in mind.

Following Roseann, were a list of city mayors, including Donna Holaday, Lisa Mead, Chris Sullivan, Mary Anne Clancy and John Moak, who highlighted key efforts, decisions and events leading up to the ultimate construction of our state-of-the art center where all the programs were finally consolidated.

Members of the COA board spoke, including President Chris Czernik and “special” friend Richie Eaton, who led and was active in many of the major fundraising projects.

Past and current members of the Friends board whose ongoing commitment to focus on the needs of our area seniors by providing financial support for programs and augmenting city funding for capital projects included Kevin Hunt, Ken Adams, Eleanor Lyons, Conor McDermott.

Lastly, new COA Director Paula Burke, who led us through these last five months of remote engagement of our seniors via phone and remote programming and with the center being a critical facility to dispense vaccines. She also talked about upcoming plans for the summer (outdoor tent having been erected) and future fall plans.

Over the years, 54 different individuals participated as board members, as officers and as resources whose time and efforts contributed to the success of the Friends.

A “special thank-you” to all of them. And a note of gratitude to Olga MacFarlane for her untiring work for the construction of the center and her many years leading the Friends who passed just months before her dream of the Senior Community Center being opened.

Onward to the next 25!

Ben Iacono

President

Friends of the Newburyport Council on Aging

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