By Evan Lips
MARLBOROUGH – Gov. Deval Patrick and Attorney General Martha Coakley rubbed elbows with senior citizens yesterday at a conference on aging, an event Patrick described as “marvelous thing.”
The 30th annual Senior Conference, sponsored by state Sen. Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton, was free and featured services, workshops, food and entertainment. Eldridge said he sponsored the event to help seniors learn more about what the state has to offer them.
“This event provides them with crucial information and support,” Eldridge said in a statement released prior to the conference.
For Hudson resident and World War II veteran Walter Brazeau, it was a chance to be thanked by Patrick for his courageous efforts on the beaches of Normandy.
“He’s (Patrick) the first governor to attend this event in the 30 years we’ve been holding it,” Brazeau said. “I’m happy he’s here and I’m happy he remembers our veterans.”
Patrick, who is seeking re-election this November, stopped by nearly every table in the Assabet cafeteria to chat with seniors.
“He cares about seniors and he’s genuinely sincere when he says that,” said longtime city resident Barbara McGuire, mother of Mayor Nancy Stevens. “I have faith that he’ll continue to do a great job.”
After lunch was finished, Coakley arrived, walking with seniors through the corridors of Assabet and offering advice on everything from law enforcement to identity theft protection.
“I’ve been waiting to meet you,” an excited Jean Peltak told Coakley outside the cafeteria. “You’ve done such great work in this state and I’m so happy you’re here.”
Coakley joked that the energy of the conference was putting a youthful stride in her step.
“Everybody here is young at heart today,” she said.
But not every interaction was lighthearted. Sudbury resident John Donovan asked Coakley how the state can better crack down on drug trafficking.
“Unfortunately nobody – including her – knows that answer,” he said after his brief encounter with the attorney general. “We just can’t control the faucet that’s pumping drugs into this country.”
After her meet-and-greet sessions, Coakley’s visit took on an air of seriousness when she spoke about elder abuse and scams during a presentation in Assabet’s auditorium.
“Technology may be changing but common sense hasn’t,” she said. “If you see something that’s too good to be true, it probably is.
“You want to make sure that you protect your information, use that same common sense.”
Coakley warned seniors to be wary about everything from credit card fraud to fake charities, telling seniors to call her office if they had any questions.
Rep. Danielle Gregoire, D-Marlborough, told seniors the door to her office is also open.
“I am here as a resource to you,” she said. “Please don’t forget that.”