330 North St., (413) 499-9346. Jean M. Beauchemin, director. The Ralph J. Froio Senior Center houses a host of services available to the city's 10,000 residents over 55. Located in what was once the Capitol movie theater, the center offers activities, speakers, health clinics, nutritious meals and special events.
Among services available to the elderly (some for a small fee) are discount cards, information and referrals, recreational programs, social day care, transportation and tax preparation service. Activities include trips, dancing, woodworking, bingo, bowling, card games, crafts, college courses, poetry and art. The center serves as a meal site for nutritional lunches prepared through Elder Services. A coffee shop is also operated on the premises, serving breakfasts, snacks and light lunches. Health services are offered through the Berkshire Visiting Nurse Association, an affiliate of Berkshire Health Systems, and the city's Department of Public Health. In addition, the local chapter of the American Association of Retired persons holds quarter meetings at the Center.
The Council on Aging
The council is an advisory board. It is charged with identifying the needs of elders; designing, promoting and implementing services to fill those needs, and educating the local community and enlisting support of area residents to address elder needs. The COA distributes the latest information on health care and other issues affecting older residents.
The COA also sponsors a Brown Bag program with the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts which distributes a full bag of groceries to qualifying low-income residents 55 and over.
The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP)
16 Bartlett Ave., Pittsfield (413) 499-9345
RSVP provides recruitment, training and placement of persons 55+ years of age as volunteers throughout the county. RSVP enables volunteers to use their time and lifetime experiences to meet new people, help others, be productive and creative, explore new careers and make a measurable impact through their community service efforts. RSVP volunteers may choose a permanent, temporary or special seasonal assignment. Volunteers may work in-groups, in partnership with other volunteers, or alone. The locations range from schools, non-profit agencies, hospitals, libraries, tourist attractions, homeland security and historic sites. In 2002, RSVP coordinated the activities of 537 volunteers who provide over 70,000 hours of service to the Berkshire community.
(413) 499-4660 ext. 379
Berkshire Community College participates in the national educational travel program, Elderhostel, offering 8 - 10
program weeks each year, from June to October. These are held at the Crowne Plaza Pittsfield. Almost 300 people from around the country, as well as area residents, come to attend a week of courses at very reasonable rates, with top-notch faculty. BCC Elderhostel course topics include theatre, music foreign policy, Berkshire cultural venues, and one intergenerational circus camp week. Local residents over 55 years of age are invited to attend at reduced commuter rates. More information is available at www.elderhostel.org. entering Pittsfield as the key word.
Elder Services of Berkshire County
66 Wendell Ave., (413) 499-0524, (800) 544-5242
Elder Abuse Hotline (800) 922-2275
Elder Services mission is to provide Berkshire elders the opportunity to live with dignity, independence, and self-determination, and to achieve the highest possible quality of life.
Elder Services was established as a private, non-profit Home Care Corporation in 1974. Today, Elder Services staff and over 450 volunteeers together serve more than 10,000 elders, disabled individuals and caregivers annually.
Services offered include Information and Referral, Case Management, Meals on Wheels, Respite Care, Homemaker and Home Health Assistance, Nursing Home Screening, Housing, Adult Family Care, Nursing Home Ombudsman, Money Management, SHINE (Serving the Health Information Needs of Elders) Counseling, Protective Services, Senior Aide Employment, the Gallagher Alzheimer's Resource Center and Caregiver Support Services. Community volunteers bring elders to doctor's appointments, do grocery shopping, and provide companionship.
The agency publishes a monthly newspaper, Berkshire Senior, circulation 10,500, and airs two Berkshire Senior TV shows a month on local cable TV on topics of interest to seniors.
Elder Services periodically assesses the needs of the county's older persons, and then works to develop responsive services.
Elder Services collaborates with local Councils on Aging, senior centers, certified home health agencies, adult day health and social day care programs, mental health agencies, long term care facilities, and the two county health systems. www.esbci.org.