By JOHN FLOWERS
BRIDPORT — The Bridport Grange Hall will receive a $15,680 cut of $196,000 in federal money recently secured by Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., for senior centers in four counties.
Bridport Grange Hall became eligible for the money as host of the Bridport Seniors Group. The hall also serves as a distribution point for the local Meals on Wheels program (see related story this page).
The Champlain Valley Agency on Aging will receive the grant money. Leaders of the Bridport Grange and Bridport Seniors Group will together discuss how the money will be spent on improvements to the building.
Jim Morse, an officer with the Bridport Grange, said the building could use work on its dining room floor and its parking amenities. Visitors currently must park alongside the road or off-site.
“It sounds really good,” Morse said of the grant award.
Debbie Plouffe, another officer of the Grange, said the organization has been able to make other important repairs to the building thanks to special fund-raising events and fees garnered by the facility. Those repairs have included new windows, a new furnace, painting and insulation for the walls.
Seniors use the Grange Hall at least twice a week, primarily for meals and socializing, Plouffe said.
When announcing the grant last week, Sanders said the importance of senior centers, like Bridport’s, should not be underestimated.
“Senior centers in Vermont play a great role in making sure that older Vermonters receive the nutrition, socialization and health care they need,” said Sanders. “Unfortunately, many of these senior centers are located in older buildings that need infrastructure improvements.”
Also receiving grants were the Islands in the Sun Senior Center of Alburgh ($23,520); the Champlain Senior Center of Burlington ($10,976); the Heineberg Senior Center of Burlington ($31,360); the Fairfield Community Center of Fairfield ($23,520); the Franklin County Senior Center of St. Albans ($39,200); and the Winooski Senior Center ($4,704).
By JOHN S. McCRIGHT
BRIDPORT — The Meals on Wheels program in Bridport is becoming a victim of its own success. As the number of participants has swelled, the Champlain Valley Agency on Aging program is desperately in need of more drivers to deliver nutritious meals to seniors in their homes.
Mary West, assistant nutrition director at the CVAA, said there is a limited number of people in Bridport who have the time to volunteer and the list of stops has grown.
The route is long and businesses can’t sacrifice (an employee for) one-and-a-half hours plus to make this drive,” West said. “As a consequence, we’re trying to split the route (and need more drivers). As we are continually adding more clients, the time to deliver will only increase.”
West and Tracy Corbett out, Meals on Wheels coordinator for Addison County, have been trying to recruit Middlebury drivers to deliver in Bridport. Some have signed on to deliver in Bridport as well as their regular routes in Middlebury until the CVAA can get more regular Bridport volunteers.
Bridport’s dearth of volunteers is an anomaly, West said. Bristol embraced its Meals on Wheels program so totally that it is managed and run completely by volunteers, with Sue Buonincontro as volunteer coordinator, and Vergennes, headed up by Lynn Jackson-Donnelly, has done the same. The CVAA is looking for a volunteer coordinator for Bridport.
“Amazingly, even with these gas prices, volunteers haven’t quit and continue to donate the cost of their mileage as well as their time,” West said. “We’re thankful for what we can accomplish, and know we wouldn’t have any Meals on Wheels programs without them. We’re exceedingly aware of this flip side and continue to be very grateful to our volunteers.”
Anyone interested in volunteering for Meals on Wheels is asked to call the Champlain Valley Agency on Aging at 1-800-642-5119.