Hard-Working Chelsea Senior Center’s Year in Review

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By Doug Marrin

At the April 5, 2021, City Council meeting, the Chelsea Senior Center recapped its past year during the shutdown and shared its plans to soon reopen for onsite activities.

Charlotte Wyche, Board President for the Center, told the Council, "We have over 1000 members in the Chelsea Senior Center with by far the largest segment being Chelsea residents. Many of those members have renewed their membership this year in spite of all of the COVID shutdowns and the fact that we've had no onsite activities for more than a year."

"In spite of the COVID shutdown, the Chelsea Senior Center has remained a vital resource for our area seniors, particularly our most vulnerable seniors," added Wyche.

Bill O'Reilly, Executive Director for the Senior Center, summarized the Center's efforts over the past thirteen months.

"Among the programs that we have kept going are the Meals on Wheels," said O'Reilly. "We continue to deliver over 500 meals per week since we had to close onsite activities thirteen months ago. That's over 28,000 meals that we've delivered to the area's homebound seniors."

In working closely with St Joseph Chelsea, the Center procured vaccinations for more than 200 members. The Center contacted nearly all of the 1,000 members regarding vaccination accessibility. As a result, O'Reilly reported that over 90% of the members have been vaccinated or scheduled to be vaccinated.

Throughout the entire shutdown, Senior Center staff and volunteers have performed hundreds of wellness checks for homebound seniors, provided remote activities and transportation. O'Reilly also spoke of the "Ann Van," an eight-passenger van the Center purchased recently to help with transportation needs.

See article: Chelsea Senior Center Introduces the "Ann Van.”

With almost all of its members vaccinated or soon vaccinated, O’Reilly told the Council that the Center expects to reopen for onsite activities on April 19.

“We’ll take it easy,” he said. “We’re only going to open with about a third of our programming. We’ll introduce another third in the next couple of weeks. After that, we expect to be back to where we were pre-COVID to about 275 activities a month.”

All safety protocols will continue even with the high number of members vaccinated. “We’re going to be safe,” said O’Reilly. But in emphasizing the urgency to reopen, he added, “One thing we know for sure here is that when a person stays at home, their physical health goes down along with their mental health.”

Councilmember Albertson affirmed the Center’s plan to reopen. “I’m so very glad to hear that you're going to begin a very intelligent reopening for the senior residents of Chelsea. Seniors, as well as children, have suffered the most from the isolation of the pandemic. The mental health challenges are beyond our county's ability to measure at this point. The very least that we can do is focus on the well-being of our most vulnerable groups.”

Mayor Johnson also expressed her thanks for the work the Senior Center staff and volunteers have been doing.

“I do want to thank you and your staff for all of your hard work delivering that many meals. Making sure people have contact is really important, so I want to take a moment to recognize and show some gratitude for all the work and hard effort that you put in. It does take a lot of time and effort.”

Photo credit: City of Chelsea

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