By ARDEN BASTIA For the first time since last March, the Pilgrim Senior Center opened its doors to the community again. On Monday, the center announced a new schedule of in-person activities, with more planned for June. "When we closed the doors to the
For the first time since last March, the Pilgrim Senior Center opened its doors to the community again.
On Monday, the center announced a new schedule of in-person activities, with more planned for June.
“When we closed the doors to the Pilgrim Senior Center last year at the beginning of the pandemic, I never imagined we would be closed for more than a year. It has been a long, difficult time for everyone,” said director Meg Underwood on Wednesday.
The in-person activities include a stitcher’s workshop on Mondays at 1 p.m., quilting and needlecraft on Tuesdays at 9 a.m., Yarnigans on Wednesdays at 9:30 a.m., Studio 27 painting group on Thurdays at 1 p.m., Pilgrim Theatre Stars at 10:30 a.m., Knit Wits at 1 p.m., and Poetry Readers at 1 p.m. on Fridays.
While in-person activities have resumed, there are still some COVID protocols the center is following.
In light of the new statewide mask mandate, Underwood says the center is going to “err on the side of safety.”
“The masking mandate is done on an honor system,” said Underwood. “We won’t be asking people if they’ve been vaccinated, but it’s entirely the member’s decision to wear a mask.”
Underwood recommends members wear a mask even if they have been vaccinated.
Because of social distancing, class sizes are limited. All classes require pre-registration each week. To sign up for activities, call (401) 468-4071. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. each Monday, and no early registrations will be accepted.
The center has asked that members not arrive more than 10 minutes before their activity, and plan to leave immediately after the class or activity. Additionally, members will have their temperature taken upon arrival and will be screened using state guidelines. Underwood explained that hand sanitizer is available throughout the building and high touch surfaces will be cleaned regularly, however, the coffee shop and lounge areas will remain closed until further notice.
Underwood has plans to “significantly increase” programming starting June 1 to include a diabetes support group, painting on wood or ceramics, and a healthy living class.
“I would love for everything to be as close to normal by July or August,” said Underwood on Wednesday.
For now, the center is still offering virtual activities for members. Virtual programs include chair yoga on Wednesdays at 1 p.m., and low impact aerobics at 9:30 a.m. and gentle yoga at 6 p.m. on Thursdays. To register for virtual classes, visit www.warwickri.gov/PilgrimVirtual or call (401) 468-4071.
To acknowledge the hard work of Pilgrim Senior Center staff, Underwood has displayed a series of posters in the center with facts and figures of all that went on behind the scenes.
In the past year, the PSC distributed 980 boxes of food to older community members. In the same time, the center has coordinated and delivered 17,909 fresh meals, 11,723 frozen meals, and 2,499 Meals on Wheels meals to homebound residents. Transwick, the senior transportation service working with the center, has delivered a total of 32,131 meals to Pilgrim Senior Center members. The staff made 3,221 vaccine appointments for community members, and the center’s nurse, Paula Ducharme, coordinated over 160 volunteers for the 12 city clinics held at Warwick Veterans Middle School. In the past year, staff made over 4,000 wellness calls to check in on members.
Pilgrim Senior Center staff also assisted members with signing up for SNAP benefits, rent relief, free cell phones, Medicare payment programs, and heating assistance. Since 2017, the center has saved clients $497,000 in Medicare costs.
“Our social services department never missed a beat,” said Underwood. “They’ve never slowed down. In fact, to the contrary, they’ve been working harder than ever.”
While these programs have supportive community members throughout the pandemic, Underwood says they can no longer continue. As the center reopens, meal delivery services will phase out.
“Moving to in-person lunches is going to be a gradual process,” she said. “The program that we’re doing for lunches now is through the congregate meal program. We’re happy to walk anyone through an application for Meals on Wheels and provide them with an application. We’ll be doing that to make sure that there is not an older adult in need, who suddenly isn’t getting that daily lunch which they have been getting for more than a year.”
Even with all the changes, Underwood says staff is “over the moon” about returning to in-person activities.
“We missed our members. And even though we spoke to them on the phone very routinely to see how they were doing or if they needed anything, it’s different from seeing them in person,” she said. “Social isolation is a significant problem among older adults to begin with, and the pandemic has really increased that isolation. It is extremely important that we bring them back into a situation where they can social and find some semblance of normalcy.”