By JOHN HOWELL When COVID-19 shut the doors to the Pilgrim Senior Center, the center didn't fold up its services. "Our doors were closed but our hearts were open," Meg Underwood, director of senior services, said Friday afternoon to a room filled with
When COVID-19 shut the doors to the Pilgrim Senior Center, the center didn’t fold up its services.
“Our doors were closed but our hearts were open,” Meg Underwood, director of senior services, said Friday afternoon to a room filled with 150 people.
This was a party and the first gathering of its kind since March of 2020. It was a reopening, Independence Day and reunion celebration all wrapped into one. The music had people tapping their feet and a few dancing. It was an occasion to get dressed up – red, white and blue was a popular theme – and a time to catch up on the news with friends.
It was also a time to visit the Warwick Public Library. Well, actually, the library visited the senior center as it launched its “pop-up library.” Librarians Ellen O’Brien, Kelly DiCenzo and Jen Linton manned a table of books and CDs available for takeout just inside the center doors. They were also armed with a computer and the means to issue library cards on the spot. The pop-up library will make appearances at other locations, including the gazebo at Oakland Beach and the Westbay Farmers Market.
Underwood underscored the role her staff played during the pandemic, scheduling 3,221 vaccination appointments, providing more than 36,600 meals that were either picked up or delivered to people and making more than 4,000 what she called “wellness calls.”
“Isolation is one of the biggest problems for older Americans,” she said. Calls were made with no particular purpose other than to connect and let people know they were there if needed.
And what party would be complete without a raffle?
The center staff had planned on that, too. Thanks to the generosity of community businesses, there was a wide assortment of prizes including breakfast with the mayor. City Council President Steve McAllister also gave a breakfast prize.
Best of all, there was no charge for raffle tickets and everyone was given an equal number of tickets when they stepped in the room.
As soon as word of the party went out, reservations poured in. Regrettably, Underwood had to cut off attendance at 150, although there could have been 200 based on response.
It’s surely an indication of how anxious people are ready to get out and get back to normal.
With their hearts having always been open, Underwood said, “now we’re happy to say our doors are open, too.”