by Paul Crocetti
April 24, 2009
MARLBOROUGH -At a time when many are worried about cuts to their services, hundreds of local seniors gathered to enjoy entertainment, food and workshops at an annual conference yesterday.
The 29th Senior Conference, held at Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School, offered health screenings, a free lunch, a performance by the Senior Strutters and workshops on topics such as identity theft and memory.
Maynard resident Joan Meakin not only got a chance to take advantage of some of the conference’s services, but she also performed as a dancer with the Senior Strutters. The Sudbury-based group performed a musical story about immigrants who came to the United States through Ellis Island. Popular songs such as “If I Were a Rich Man” and “You’ve Got a Friend” went over especially well, as did Meakin’s performance.
“They love the tap dancing,” said Meakin, 81, who danced as a teenager during World War II and then took it up again 20 years ago.
Earlier in the day, Meakin got her blood pressure and cholesterol checked and had a cancer screening.
“That was wonderful. Everything was good,” Meakin said.
Tom Calf of Hudson said he could not believe that most of the Strutters are seniors.
“It kept me entertained the whole hour,” he said.
Calf also liked the presentation of the information at the conference, “It was well organized,” he said.
Sally Wadman of Sudbury said she liked the workshops, especially the one on memory. Using the workshop’s tips, Wadman said she was able to remember memories from more than 50 years ago.
“That’s the reason why I come – to get ideas,” she said.
The event featured representatives for senior programs such as Prescription Advantage, which helps fill the gap for seniors who do not have adequate prescription drug coverage. Prescription Advantage is one of the programs that the state House of Representatives proposed to partially cut in its version of the fiscal 2010 budget.
Some seniors told state Sen. Jamie Eldridge, who hosted the event, they worry about possible cuts to Prescription Advantage, the Home Care Program and local aid.
“I’m absolutely opposed to these cuts,” said Eldridge, an Acton democrat.
To offset the cuts, Eldridge wants to raise revenue through such methods as the local options tax and closing the telecommunications loophole.
State Rep. Kate Hogan, D-Stow, told seniors she would fight to restore funding for programs such as Prescription Advantage and Home Care.
The state’s Executive Office of Elder Affairs is doing its best to make sure seniors’ needs are being met, said Ellie Shea-Delaney, interim secretary of the department.
On the federal level, the stimulus package has dedicated funding to providing meals for seniors across the state. Shea-Delaney said she noticed many people enjoying yesterday’s lunch.
“I can’t predict when these difficult times will be over,” Shea-Delaney told seniors assembled in the Assabet Valley Tech auditorium. “But we are here to help.”