Congratulations to the Danbury Department of Elderly Services!
The City of Danbury’s Department of Elderly Services has again been named a Senior Focal Point by the Western CT Area Agency on Aging (WCAAA) for 2022-2024!
The Department of Elderly Services seeks to increase the quality of life of Danbury area citizens who are age 60 or older by developing many comprehensive programs and providing resource and referral services specifically designed to enrich the general well-being of Danbury’s more mature population. Programs include the Municipal Agent’s Office for the Elderly, the Elmwood Hall Senior Center, the Van Transportation Program, the Rent Rebate Program, the Senior Nutrition Congregate Meal Program, and various Intergenerational Programs. Communication regarding these programs is enhanced through our website www.danburyseniors.org – the official website for Danbury seniors.
The website, www.danburyseniors.org, provides information and links to services and resources for seniors, their families and the greater community. It also provides information on events at the Elmwood Hall Senior Center and in the greater community, news stories, and a photo gallery. One can stay up-to-date on news items by subscribing to e-news, as well as email any staff member to get questions answered and have resources provided. The Municipal Agent’s office provides information and referral, assisting older citizens with up-to-date information on Medicare, Medicaid, Elder Law, Tax Credits, Senior Housing, Elder Abuse, Home Care, and a host of other important issues affecting older citizens. The Elmwood Hall Senior Center provides a variety of programs in the areas of health and wellness, benefits and support, education, leisure time activities, fun and celebrations, and volunteer opportunities. The majority of these programs are done in partnership with other community providers and sponsors. Elmwood Hall is the gateway to information as well as the “place to gather” for many seniors. A newsletter titled “The Elmwood Extra” is a bi-monthly publication that keeps all members up to date on what’s going on. The Van Transportation Program provides rides to and from Elmwood Hall for activities and special outings in the community. The Rent Rebate Program, a State of Connecticut Program of the Office of Policy and Management, administered through this department, provides a one-time yearly rebate on rental payments for those who qualify. The Senior Nutrition Congregate Meal Program is provided in partnership with the Western CT Area Agency on Aging, serves a nutritionally balanced, hot meal in a social setting.
A “Friends of Danbury Seniors” group, “The Prime Timers, Inc.” is a 501C3 not-for-profit whose sole mission is to support the programs of the department and the Elmwood Hall Senior Center. Donations are accepted at any time.
Fiscal Year 2020-2021 Accomplishments
Our accomplishments for 2021 focused on continuing the programs the Department of Elderly Services redesigned to safely meet the needs of Danbury Seniors during the COVID19 pandemic. As we moved through the year, the focus changed to a gradual, safe reopening of in-person programing. Our reopening began on May 19, 2021.
Congregate Meal Site turned into Meal Delivery and Grab and Go. In partnership with CW Resources, our congregate meal provider for our on-site senior lunch program, we have converted this program into a Meals on Wheels delivery program. In December, State of CT COVID19 funds for senior meals were depleted. Through the support of three non-profits, The New American Dream Foundation, and The Prime Timers, Inc., Friends of Danbury Seniors, The United Way of Western CT, and The Amber Room Colonnade, we were able to secure funds to provide two meals to these same seniors until April of 2021. In May of 2021, the State of CT funding resumed. Four meals per week are provided via Grab and Go.
Resource and Referral Over the Phone and In Person. We continue to connect seniors to resources in the community. Many referrals are for seniors who are food insecure, but we are also assisting with referrals and guidance for SNAP benefits, homecare, housing, tax assistance, elder abuse, home repair, elder law, transportation, unemployment, and medical equipment. In May of 2021, this program became available by appointment in person again.
CHOICES Over the Phone (Connecticut’s program for Health insurance assistance, Outreach, Information and referral, Counseling, Eligibility Screening, i.e. Medicare A, B, D, Advantage, Medigap, Medicare Savings). Up until May, we continued to assist seniors with CHOICES and benefit and support services over the phone. After May, we were again able to offer in-person appointments for this important information.
Delivery of Personal Care Items. A private citizen donated personal care items such as deodorant, soap, body lotion, shampoo, toothpaste, etc. These items were delivered to Danbury seniors who were in our meal delivery program.
Rent Rebate Over the Phone. The Rent Rebate program for 2019 concluded on October 1, 2020. Since outreach to senior and disabled housing buildings was not permitted, all communication and application submission for this program took place over the phone, through email, text, and Facetime. The program for 2020 began with the same process, adding in-person appointments after May of 2020.
“Sunshine Smile” Social Wellness Call Program. In an effort to mitigate social isolation, this program, once called Friendly Visitor Over the Phone, has continued to grow during the isolation of COVID19. As well as helping to alleviate social isolation, this program acts as a liaison for connecting seniors to services they might need in the future.
On-Demand Virtual Activities / Zoom Classes / In-Person Classes. We offered virtual on-demand activities, especially in the area of wellness classes. They include Line Dancing, Strength Training, Gentle Flow Yoga, Zumba Gold, Timeless Trivia, Chair Yoga, and Dance Yoga. Then Zoom activities followed, including Trivia, Movie Club, Scavenger Hunt, Coloring Circle, Strength Training, Chair Yoga, Line Dancing, Multimedia Art Instruction, and a St. Patrick’s Day Party. The Senior Center also participated in “It’s a Wonderful Life” A Virtual Gathering for Connecticut Senior Centers. This was a statewide virtual event. Danbury Senior Center participated along with seventy other senior centers. It was provided by CT Healthy Living Collective, Connecticut Community Care, CT Association of Senior Center Personnel with support from AARP CT. Treat bags were distributed Grab and Go or delivered by Elmwood Hall – Danbury Senior staff that included holiday treats and a National Council on Aging “Aging Mastery” Starter Kit. Many of the Zoom activities returned to in-person beginning in May 2020.
Connections with Friends and Family through Technology – “Stay Connected” Program. Elmwood Hall – Danbury Senior Center partnered with the State of CT Western CT Area Agency on Aging (WCAAA) to assist qualified seniors to obtain no-cost technology, such as smartphones or tablets in an effort to help seniors get connected to friends and family. Qualified seniors are matched with a “device” to help them to see family and friends via FaceTime, Zoom, Google Meet, etc. This program was supported by the CARES Act.
One-on-One Tech Support Over the Phone. Elmwood Hall – Danbury Senior Center and the Danbury Library have redesigned our One-on-One Tech Support program so now seniors can receive the tech support they need to understand how to better communicate with friends and family over the phone.
CT Department of Agriculture Farmers’ Market Voucher Program. In partnership with the State of CT Department of Agriculture, Farmers’ Market Vouchers were provided for Danbury seniors by in-person appointments.
Eat Smart Live Strong Nutrition Program / Farm on the Move. A funding increase has allowed us to double the amount of Farmers’ Market Boxes or Farmers’ Market Coins. Nutrition education continues online in partnership with the UCONN Department of Agriculture SNAP Nutrition Education. Fresh vegetables were provided in the form of two choices: 1) “Two Grab and Go Farmers’ Market Boxes” per month, picked up at the Senior Center for those who did not feel safe shopping at the Farmers’ Market (or delivered for those who lack transportation) or 2) “Farmers’ Market Coins” given out directly at the Farmer’s Markets to seniors so they can shop on their own. Both are valued at $20. This program is delivered in partnership with CityCenter Danbury, the Danbury Farmers’ Market, UCONN Department of Agriculture, the Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation, the Savings Bank of Danbury, and the United Way of Western CT.
Grab and Go and/or Delivery Events. Grab and Go / Delivery events replaced many of the social events held at the Senior Center. They were held outside in the front of the Senior Center. November: Halloween Treat Bag, December: Holiday Wooden Heart Craft, You’ve Been Elfed Treat Bag, It’s a Wonderful Life Treat Bag and Statewide Virtual Holiday program, February: Valentine’s Breakfast, Zentangle Crafting at Home, Watercoloring Painting at Home, March: St. Patrick’s Day Treat Bag, May: Self Care / Social Isolation Treat Bag (funded with CARES grant), June: Unilever Everyday Household Items, 10 lbs. Box (provided by Unilever through The New American Dream Foundation, Rethink Your Drink Nutrition / Hydration Bag, and Zoom program.
Scaling Up Operations. COVID19 is a fluid and ever-changing situation. Wearing masks and social distancing remain. We will continue to scale up operations as appropriate. We will continue to work with the State of Connecticut Department of Aging and Disability Services, the State of CT Department of Public Health, the CT Association of Senior Center Personnel, as well as our City of Danbury Mayor’s Office, and Department of Health and Human Services to remain open in a way that prioritizes the safety of Danbury’s older adults.