Chapin Senior Center gets people out and about

  • Seniors disembark at the Bradford Center Meeting House after taking a bike ride through the back roads of Bradford and South Newbury. Courtesy of Kelley Keith

  • Seniors went on a hike and kayak trip at the Hopkinton-Everett Reservoir with Chapin Senior Center. —Courtesy of Kelly Keith

  • Seniors went on a hike and kayak trip at the Hopkinton-Everett Reservoir with Chapin Senior Center. —Courtesy of Kelly Keith

  • Seniors went on a hike and kayak trip at the Hopkinton-Everett Reservoir with Chapin Senior Center. Courtesy of Kelley Keith

  • Seniors went on a hike and kayak trip at the Hopkinton-Everett Reservoir with Chapin Senior Center. —Courtesy of Kelly Keith

Monitor staff
Published: 7/20/2019 9:00:15 PM

With more than 50 different activities for seniors to enjoy, there is never a dull moment at the COA Chapin Senior Center in New London.

The center serves residents of Andover, Danbury, Grantham, New London, Newbury, Springfield, Sunapee, Sutton and Wilmot who are age 55 or older.

Almost three years ago, Kelley Keith took over as executive director. With 18 years of experience as a hospital social worker under her belt, she knew exactly in which direction to take the COA Chapin Senior Center.

Keith did some reevaluating after surveying some of the seniors. They felt most of the services at the center were focused around the negative aspects of aging. It became clear that she needed to make new programming centered around wellness and socialization.

She said that the seniors of the center wanted “enrichment and to build connections with each other.”

With all of her hard work, seniors now have the opportunity to participate in extensive and diverse programming. The center is open year-round from Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., but closed on holidays.

Most of the daily activities are centered around physical activity, including walks, exercise groups, yoga, hiking trips and more.

Seniors are also encouraged to keep their minds active, with the center providing Bingo, discussion groups, a memoir writing group and arts and crafts activities.

There is also a library where center members can check out books or DVDs with no due dates or late fees.

Other than the local activities, Keith implemented overnight trips to get seniors out of town for a bit. Trips have included going to the White Mountains and Lake George, N.Y.

Through funding and grants, seniors are also able to participate in the luncheon program which travels to nearby restaurants.

“They are really here to connect with other people, to meet people, they feel that prolongs their life,” Keith said.

On top of activities, the health and well-being of the seniors are at the core of the COA Chapin Senior Center’s values.

Seniors are able to receive free mobility equipment such as wheelchairs, canes and walkers.

With no public transportation in the area, Keith saw the need to help seniors get rides to appointments, the grocery store, or to church with the transportation program she developed. Volunteers cover their own fuel and insurance costs.

The center would not be able to operate without all of its volunteers. More than 140 people are committed to making sure seniors are taken care of the COA Chapin Senior Center stays open and functioning.

Most of the volunteers are retired. They are responsible for planning and leading all of the activities.

“This wouldn’t all be possible without them,” Keith said.

The driving force behind everything the COA Chapin Senior Center does are none other than the seniors themselves. Enthusiastic and eager to continue their involvement in the community, the people are the heart and soul of everything the center stands for.

“It’s amazing how young they are at heart and how willing they are to try new things and how involved they are,” Keith said.

She added that she decided to join the bike group for a ride and was amazed at the fact that some of the seniors were in front of her, proving that active lifestyles have no age limit.

With Keith’s amazing improvements to the seniors’ experiences, aging will continue to be embraced.

“I hope when I am 92, I am still willing to be as involved in things as they are,” she said.




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