Second Full-Time Senior Van Announced
Mayor Dolan said the additional vehicle will help service an expanding senior population.
Note: The following was submitted by Mayor Robert Dolan:
I am very pleased to announce that the Adelaide Breed Bayrd Foundation and the City of Melrose will partner to purchase and staff a second full-time senior citizen van to meet the increasing transportation needs of the senior citizens of Melrose.
With the transition of a new supermarket coming in 2013, along with the fact that the needs for senior citizen transportation are expanding, it is time for the city and this nonprofit foundation to make an investment in the largest growing population in our community, senior citizens.
Transportation is a key piece to ensure that senior citizens can remain independent and in their own homes. Last year alone, the Melrose Senior Center gave over 8,000 rides to grocery stores, medical appointments, and outside functions. This critical service is often a lifeline to medical services, nutritious meals, affordable shopping, and social events. We have been working very hard over the last several months, knowing there could be an increased need. The Adelaide Breed Bayrd Foundation is committing $40,000 to this effort, and the City of Melrose will be committing $20,000 to fund the staff to drive the van.
The Adelaide Breed Bayrd Foundation is a philanthropic foundation that serves people in need and senior citizens in our area. I cannot thank the foundation enough for their commitment to partner with us to meet this clear and evident need.
Although we have an immediate need in regard to the closing of Johnny's and a new grocery store opening next year, the picture is more complex than that. Senior citizens are our fastest growing group and will be for years to come as Baby Boomers move into their mid-60s. It is critical from a local standpoint, both in terms of public policy and economics, that the city prepare to partner with families and organizations such as Mystic Valley Elder Services to create a program that keeps people in their own homes and out of hospitals and nursing homes. Planning for that has to begin now.
Coming from a background in home care and geriatric health care myself, before I was mayor, I know that communities are healthier when there are partnerships and programs that focus on three key elements.
1. Nutritious meals: Mystic Valley Elder Services provides a
comprehensive Meals on Wheels program, and we have partnered with them to create the Community Dinner, which serves over 5,000 people per year.
2. Socialization: It is critical that people who are homebound or have
lost their transportation are not isolated from the rest of the community.
The Milano Senior Center provides services five days a week to engage senior citizens in a range of activities from exercise and personal growth to special events. This new van will allow us to get homebound people to our senior center, which has always been a challenge.
3. Transportation: Transportation includes access to quality food
products at reasonable prices and medical care: The number one concern of a sick senior citizen should not be how to get to medical appointments.
Although the MBTA's The Ride provides excellent service, they are overburdened, understaffed, and underfunded to provide the services our senior citizens need. I think we can all agree this won't change any time soon.
I would be remiss if I did not mention Friends in Service to Humanity (FISH), a private organization that does an incredible job trying to bridge the gap between The Ride, our own van, and the growing need. They are true community heroes, but they cannot get the job done by themselves. A second van will not only allow us to meet these needs on a daily basis but also allow us to expand in response to input from our own service providers and the senior citizens who use the program.
A tremendous amount of work has been done to seek out partners to meet these needs. I am very happy this has come to a successful conclusion with the van bought by the Bayrd Foundation and staffing fully funded by the City of Melrose. This partnership will allow us to provide an array of new transportation services to senior citizens for years to come.
Quote from C. Henry Kezer, Chairman of the Adelaide Breed Bayrd Foundation:
"Mayor Dolan has indicated that the closing of Johnny's is placing a greater burden on the seniors of Melrose, who rely on city transportation to get to and from grocery stores. The Bayrd foundation understands that such a vehicle can provide assistance to the City of Melrose in meeting these needs."