There’s a new name for the Senior Café

Sun, 08/28/2022 - 11:00am

The Senior Advisory Committee is excited about its newest endeavor, the Senior Café, although it is changing the name to Connection Café in the hopes it will attract more people.
The café, located at the Community Center is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 1 to 3:30 p.m.
At the committee’s meeting on August 16, Gloria Redlich reported that although the café continues to grow, “we can’t compete with the beaches” on summer days. “The café becomes an extension of what we’ve been doing all along,” added Redlich, which includes improving the quality of life of seniors, in part by combating isolation and loneliness. “We’ve had some really successful programs,” she said, including a sing-along with Jane
Emsbo and a poetry session led by Nancy Greenaway. “There were 10 of us, and a golden retriever.”
Other recent programs include one with Flip Porter on self-defense, which one member of the committee said was really more on avoidance, or how to get out of a potentially sticky situation.
Co-chair Sandra Kelly said that Porter was willing to do more sessions, and more intensive ones.
The Medical Center is also conducting monthly talks at the café. So far, one has been conducted by Dr. Thomas Warcup and one with physical therapist Tom Hobin.
There will be a special luncheon on September 7 with social worker Saul Richmond from Tri County Community Action.
With more outreach and the fading of summer, Redlich said: “I think we’ll see a big uptick in response.”
“Is it possible to do something in the evening?” asked member Chuck McMellon. “Maybe dinner and a movie?”
The question was quickly followed by a couple of other suggestions, including author talks or readings, perhaps accompanied by wine and cheese.
“A little wine and cheese never hurts,” said Kelly.
The committee is already thinking about next year’s budget. Gail Pierce said she had talked with Town Council member Keith Stover about the town’s budget process that starts in the fall and he suggested having “one big thing” when it comes to putting together a budget request. “Something big on our side would be a full-time position to run the café,” she said. Currently it is staffed by volunteers.
Redlich and Kelly are also pursuing grant opportunities and there are some that are upcoming. In a previous round of state grants, $1 million was slated for senior centers around the state, but Block Island only received $2,000. Kelly said another grant for $200,000 has just been announced. “I think we should apply,” she said. “The state should know Block Island is out there.”
As for the $2,000 grant, Kelly said she would like to use it to help fund air conditioning for the Community Center. She noted that currently the only cooling center in town is the library, so the Community Center could serve as a second one for seniors.
With a quote of $8,150 for an 18,000 BTU unit, Kelly said they could get a second grant from the Block Island Solar Initiative of $5428, leaving only a balance of $722. Kelly said she had approached Block Island Economic Development, the owner of the building about paying. “BIED agreed,” said Kelly.
“One hundred percent,” said Pierce.
“It’s a really good idea,” said McMellon.