Volunteer/ REAP

VOLUNTEERING: “One Person CAN Make A Difference”

MARCH 2021

In order to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Brookline Senior Center (BSC) continues to comply with the mandates of Federal, State and local government agencies. Since it is uncertain as to when we will be able to safely expand hosting our special or ongoing programs in the Center, we have been working to develop a list of online programming options with some of our regular group facilitators, as well as with some of your favorite performers and presenters. Please remember that these “virtual” programs are new to everyone so there may be glitches, but we hope that you will continue to give the online programming options a try. In addition, we have been able to restart a modified lunch program through Springwell. This is a Grab n Go lunch collected by participants outside the Senior Center on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Sign-up is required. To sign up or for non-volunteer issues, please call the main BSC numbers – 617 730 2770 or 617 730 2777 and leave a message or submit your question to info@brooklineseniorcenter.org.

We hope that you and your loved ones stay healthy and well in the days ahead and we look forward to celebrating with you all when we are able to safely and fully reopen the Senior Center. Thank you for your patience as we balance remote and in-office work schedules.


· Springwell Home Delivery Meals on Wheels’ Drivers

Springwell is an essential part of the social safetynet for thousands of older adults each year, and they are continuing to provide the services that are helping older adults stay safe and in their homes during this challenging time.

At this time, Springwell is seeking volunteers who are willing to provide home delivery of meals. Springwell especially needs volunteers who can work in the towns of Belmont, Brookline, Newton, Watertown, and Waltham. If you: are interested in receiving training and support to help us reach vulnerable seniors with critical in-home meals; have a reliable car, a current driver’s license, and a clean driving record; are available between 10:00 am -1:00 pm; are able to provide these services, consistent with guidance we receive from the CDC, WHO and other governmental agencies, recognizing you may come into contact with high-risk members of our community and others; and are successfully able to meet the regulatory pre-requisites for the position, please contact us! Email volunteer@springwell.com or go online and apply to volunteer at https://springwell.com/volunteer/

TOWN OF BROOKLINE: To be contacted for various volunteer jobs, please email COVIDVolunteer@BrooklineMA.gov

FOOD COMMODITY: We continue to conduct our modified Food Commodity program outside the Senior Center due to COVID-19. Participants pick up their food at specified appointment times wearing masks and maintaining strict social distancing.

Any low income senior over 60 wishing to participate in the program to receive 35 pounds of shelf stable food on the 3rd Wednesday of each month should call the main Senior Center number (617 730 2770) and leave your name and number and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.

NEW- “EVERYTHING BUT SHOPPING” CONTACTLESS ACTIVITIES WITH THE BROOKLINE HIGH SCHOOL (BHS) STUDENTS: COVID-19 has put many things on hold including the SHOP program as it has been implemented for so many years. HOWEVER, the students are still eager to help our seniors with contactless activities. No- contact is essential as our seniors are in the very high risk category and young people who often do not exhibit symptoms may be positive and could inadvertently spread the virus.

The Senior Center is excited to work with BHS on NEW contactless activities such as penpals – handwritten or by e-mail, zoom vocal or instrument sharing, virtual/on-line game playing – crossword puzzles, Pictionary, charades, phone calling, taking turns picking a short story to read and discuss, reading poetry together, going on virtual museum tours together, having seniors help you with school work –critique an essay or paper or be interviewed, helping seniors learn how to use their technology, teaching your senior a skill they don’t know or letting them teach you one that you might not know.

Does this sound interesting to YOU? If so, call the main Senior Center number (617 730 2770) and leave your name and number if you are interested, and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.


In preparation for the new contactless activities with students at Brookline High School, I called each of the 38 seniors who had been having students shop for them in the past to be sure that they had other means of getting their groceries and determining if they would like to participate in these new activities.

As has always been the case, seniors were very complimentary about ‘their students’. Several said that their students from last year were calling them regularly to check in; another that the students had come and sang happy birthday to her outside under her bedroom window; another that just before COVID, her students had visited her when she was in the hospital; another that the girls call her every week on the day that they would have done her shopping; another that she feels like they are her granddaughters; and another that her student has helped explain technology terms and even a few acronyms for social media.

And feedback from the student is also very positive. Some students say that they love the stories about ‘their seniors’ when they were growing up and in high school. Some say that either their grandparents live far away or have passed or they like having someone their grandparents’ age to share their activities with. Many still visit their senior on college breaks. One young man said that, ‘seniors are so interesting because they lived the history that the students are just reading about in classes’.

Clearly this is evidence of a successful intergenerational program.

STEPS (Student Training & Education in Public Service).

The goal of STEPS is to encourage more people to pursue career paths where they can make a positive impact on the lives of the elderly.

As part of the initiative, a guidebook has been created that explains why working with the elderly can be a smart career move and spotlights 13 rewarding elderly care jobs in fields ranging from healthcare to social work and counseling. It also features an insightful interview with a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who sees older adults in a psychotherapy role. Here are links to the guide and a link to the homepage where you can find more helpful public service career and education guidebooks.

Careers Working with the Elderly: https://www.publicservicedegrees.org/careers/people-with-disabilities/
STEPS (Student Training & Education in Public Service): https://www.publicservicedegrees.org/

TECH BUDDY PROGRAM: As the COVID crisis continues, elders who live alone are becoming more isolated, which leads to increased depression and other serious medical problems. Many can’t or won’t leave their houses and desperately need internet access to stay connected. However, without the shared internet access resources they relied on in the past, such as computers in libraries and community rooms (now closed due to COVID-19), many seniors have lost the little access they had to technology.

We are planning to pilot a Tech Buddy program. We would purchase 20+ tablets to distribute to willing, low-income participants. The tablets will be pre-populated with apps we believe seniors will need, such as a Food Pantry app, Zoom, transportation apps, and so on. Each participant will be matched with a tech coach volunteer who will help educate them on how to use the device and help them troubleshoot when they have issues. We will also create easy to follow instructions for them to reference.

We’re reaching out to our volunteers to serve as Tech Coaches. High School and College students are encouraged to participate. The goal is to enable elders to reach the outside world in a safe way during this pandemic.

We are hoping to start the Tech Buddies Pilot program in early 2021 and are looking for volunteers who are tech savvy and have a lot of patience.

Responsibilities: 1- Prepare tablet with appropriate apps - Brookline Food Pantry, Zoom or other video conference apps, transportation apps, telehealth apps ....; 2- Teach the Buddy the basics on how to use the tablets- power button, charging, updates, getting on the wifi etc...; 3- Teach and troubleshoot problems over the phone; 4- Help develop simple, step-by-step reference sheets; 5- Be patient and make a connection with an elder.

Requirements: 1- Be 16+ years old - with parental consent; 2- Be or become a MRC volunteer if you are 18+ - you will need to set up an account in MA Responds; 3- Knowledge of tablets (exact type TBD); 4- Able to communicate clearly; 5- PATIENCE

If you are interested in this exciting pilot program, please enter your information on https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/R9CRRCX


Photo and blurb in the Brookline TAB in November about Brookline High School senior and SHOP Student Coordinator Sidonie Brown receiving award and scholarship from the MIT Age Lab for her inter-generational work with the SHOP program. Visit from Global Service Learning Programme of Northern Ireland, September, 2019. We hope to host their high school students in the NI Education Authority Youth Services: Boston Study Visit next summer for a day of cultural exchange. Interview from Council on Aging of Southwestern Ohio regarding how to set up a SHOP program; Article TAB July 2019 re: Lincoln School Graduating 8th Graders at the Brookline Senior Center; Article re: 2019 John & Molly Dolan Awards with photo of Brookline Bank executives receiving the Community Partner Award was featured on the 1st & 4th pages of the Brookline TAB on April 25th 2019. The Brookline Senior Center Alzheimer’s Walk Team photo and blurb were featured on the Your News page of the Brookline TAB on September 27.The Brookline Senior Center Food Pantry along with Springwell and the Brookline Food Pantry were filmed in June for airing on Brookline cable’s (BIG) Age Friendly City series. The topic of this episode is Food Insecurity in Brookline. The program can be viewed on: http://www.brooklinecan.org/index.html#TV and http://www.brooklinecan.org/agefriendly.html#TV. The SHOP Program between Brookline High School and Brookline Senior Center was featured on Boston 25 News on Thursday, February 22. The link to see the feature story can be found at https://t.co/9zECVvJDEd . The Brookline Senior Center Alzheimer’s Walk Team photo and blurb were featured on the Your News page of the Brookline TAB on September 28. Ruthann was quoted in a recent article in the Commonwealth Magazine (http://CommonwealthMagazine.org/economy). Brookline shared an article with the Chicopee COA in the October issue of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Medex quarterly publication, Healthy Times. Brookline Senior Center intergenerational volunteers were spotlighted on Wednesday, March 29 on BIG, the local TV channel. If you missed it, you can find the ½ hour program link on the BCAN website or on the BIG Facebook page https://youtu.be/iDDCgi8vKCk. Patricia also updates the volunteer pages of the Town and BSC websites and contributes to the BCAN Volunteer page monthly. She urges everyone to check these websites (www.brooklineseniorcenter.org/ and www.brooklinema.gov/) and http://www.brooklinecan.org/. Brookline Senior Center volunteers were featured in an article in the April, 2016 issue of the fifty-plus advocate entitled Volunteering: A Work of Heart at the Brookline Senior Center. The article can be found on line at www.fiftyplusadvocate.com.


SHINE: Open Enrollment for Medicare supplemental insurance closed on December 7! Your best resource now is to call Medicare directly (844 841 5538) for help determining what supplemental plan is best for you.

SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Everyone) is administered by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs in partnership with Councils on Aging and other aging service access points. SHINE helps people on Medicare and seniors new to Medicare understand complex insurance options. SHINE volunteer counselors educate and provide unbiased help to choose an insurance program best for the individual. Premiums, deductibles, co-pays and drugs covered by your 2020 plan CAN change significantly.

SHINE trains counselors in a 2 days/week - 6 week course. Meetings to get support and meet with other counselors occur monthly. Once certified, you will be assigned to work 6 hours per week in a senior center or other public setting. If you are interested in becoming a certified counselor, call Dorene Nemeth, MetroWest Regional SHINE Director: 781 455 7555, ext. 202.


ZOOM CLASSES: The VIBRANT program is offering virtual group classes and individual technology training to introduce various access technology programs and how to use them. Topics include an introduction to Zoom meetings, helpful reading applications, navigating ridesharing services, and much more! To get more information or request an appointment call Rachel Castle at 617-608-4150 or email rcastle@mabcommunity.org

MASS COMMISSION FOR THE BLIND: Help a visually impaired person by reading or shopping with them. No special skills needed. Call Kyle Robidoux, Director of Volunteer Support Services, Mass Commission for the Blind – 617-926 -4312.

BROOKLINE’S EMERGENCY FOOD BANK: The Brookline Food Pantry continues to be in need of donations of canned tuna, canned chicken, rice, cereal, lentils, macaroni and cheese, oatmeal, canned vegetables, diced tomatoes, SHELF STABLE milk or juice and toiletries.

Retirement Engagement Alternatives Program

The REAP program for Brookline senior residents 55 or 60 and above (depending on the program) is designed for people who wish to remain engaged and active in the community while in retirement or partial retirement. The goal of this program is to enhance the retirement experience by linking participants with either part-time paid or volunteer work in the community or at the (BSC) itself.

The BSC partners with several other local organizations to offer fulfilling and interesting opportunities. These include, but are not limited to: BrooklineCAN (BCAN), Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), Brookline Adult and Community Education, Executive Office of Elder Affairs and Various Brookline Town departments. In addition, opportunities exist for Tax Work-Off, and limited grant funded employment at the BSC for income qualified Brookline residents.

The REAP program provides the following free services: individual, confidential and free consultation around skills and interests, on-going skills based workshops and training for employment seekers, employer-employee matching service, consultation and matching for participants seeking meaningful volunteer opportunities and on-going opportunities to network and explore avenues and options for self-fulfillment in the retirement years. To enroll or for more information, call 617 730 2767 or email Deidre at dwaxman@brooklinema.gov