When I ran for office four years ago, I said would focus on ensuring our town’s government met the needs of all residents regardless of where you lived, your age, how many years you have lived in town, who you knew or your political affiliation. To me, we are all Westfield residents interested in moving our town forward.
One group of residents Mayor Brindle and I quickly discovered felt left out by previous administrations was Westfield’s seniors. We knew it was critical to engage seniors and listen to their needs if we were going to make Westfield a successful community for young families to come to raise their families but also a place where grandparents could live close to their grandchildren. I quickly learned that approximately 15% of Westfield 30,000 residents are aged 65+ and that Ward 3 is the home to Westfield Senior Housing, a complex of two buildings off Boynton Avenue that consists of 303 apartments for seniors. This totals up to 4,500 seniors living in Westfield and likely more than a thousand seniors living in Ward 3 alone.
When the Mayor asked me to launch an effort focusing on seniors, I jumped at the opportunity to make a difference for this large group of residents.
I approached this goal the same way I approached rejuvenating the Green Team. First, I sought volunteers among Westfield residents who shared a passion for issues affecting seniors and/or had expertise in this area. To my delight but not to my surprise, eight volunteers stepped up immediately to form the Mayor’s Senior Advisory Council in March 2018, which is now known as Lifelong Westfield and has 12 members.
Since our first meeting, this talented group of volunteers – made up of seniors who have never volunteered before, high school students who have never participated in government before and adults of varying ages in between has gone above and beyond for Westfield’s seniors to help them more successfully age in place and have a voice in the town’s government.
I am incredibly proud of the impact this group has had and proud of my role as their Council Liaison, ensuring that they get the support they need from the Westfield Town Council to fulfill their mission. Some of their accomplishments include:
- Building a sense of community among Westfield Seniors, especially during COVID, that now includes sending out weekly emails, quarterly newsletters, and a weekly online chat.
- Launching an online calendar that lists events for seniors occurring in our community across at least a dozen organizations.
- Holding dozens of events for Westfield seniors including activity fairs, walking safety presentations, scam-prevention webinars and even a COVID Vaccination Fact vs Fiction presentation with local doctors.
- Going out of their way to meet the needs of seniors, including picking up storm debris, taking seniors to get vaccinated, and calling them regularly to check on their well-being.
As Council Liaison, I participate in all meetings, offer strategic input, and help with many of the group’s events, while occasionally leading some efforts too like the Westfield 300 Milestone Awards. I realized that the Westfield 300 celebration provided Lifelong Westfield a great opportunity to honor residents, businesses and even pets who have achieved amazing milestones here in town. And by doing so, we discovered the oldest living resident in Westfield (Silveo Colletti, aged 101), the greatest number of children raised in Westfield (Elizabeth Avis with 10), the longest active business in town (the Westfield Leader for 130 years), and even the oldest dog (Carole Payton’s dog Kelly who was 17).
To me, Lifelong Westfield is a great example of the governing philosophy that I, and the entire Westfield Together team, have followed which is to make sure our administration and town government meets the needs of all residents and leverages its talented citizens to make a positive impact on our town. I look forward to continuing this approach for the next four years and to earning your vote on Nov. 2.
Lastly, if you are a senior living in Westfield and not a member of Lifelong Westfield, please contact me by email at [email protected] or call me at 917-589-1197 so I can add you to our mailing list.