Friends of Marion COA celebrate progress, plan next step

Sep 30, 2019

MARION — The Friends of the Marion Council on Aging gathered at the Benjamin D. Cushing Community Center on Monday, Sept. 30 to celebrate their progress in the past year, and to plan ahead for the future.

The Marion Council on Aging has recently added wall dividers at the Community Center to allow for three different activities to take place at the same time. The dividers can also be moved to create space for larger events. They have also met their fundraising goal of $75,000 to begin their new office space program.

Director Karen Gregory said that the new office space will provide privacy for people who need to discuss sensitive information with staff of the Council on Aging or Recreation Department. She added that construction will likely begin in November, and take about three to four months to complete. During that time, staff members will have temporary offices in a trailer outside of the Community Center, and will still be in operation.

Going forward, the Council on Aging has taken the first step in becoming a designated “age-friendly community.” The World Health Organization started the network of age-friendly communities to adjust to shifting populations across the world. The AARP acts as the United States branch of this program.

With nearly 36% of Marion’s population over the age of 60, Board Member Diane Cosman said that the program would help improve the culture of the town to better care for older residents.

Cosman said that phase one of the process to become an age-friendly community is to send out a survey to conduct a baseline assessment of the town’s needs and strengths. From there she said that the Council on Aging will “slice and dice the information” to come up with a plan.

“We really want to find out what you need, what you’re looking for, and any ideas you might have,” Cosman said of the survey.

According to representatives from the AARP, Marion is the 344th community in the country to join the age-friendly network, and the 63rd in Massachusetts.

Gerald Flaherty, AARP Executive Council Member, and Marion resident, said that representatives from other towns in the network will be able to share their experiences and advice with the Marion Council on Aging to help the town become more age-friendly.