The Swarthmore Senior Citizens Association’s annual meeting, held on Saturday, February 25, was a turning point for the organization, as it became apparent that the quality of life for borough seniors will be somewhat dependent on the group taking on a larger role as change agent.
Keynote speaker Ann Torregrossa, who had chaired the borough’s Aging-in-Place Task Force in 2015, laid it on the line for the seniors: “If you don’t take this on, nobody will.” That was enough to get a lively discussion going.
The recent World Health Organization designation of Swarthmore as an Age-Friendly Community is seen as a starting point, calling residents to greater vigilance over the issues that make the borough a great place to live.
The Senior Association, which has been in existence for 31 years, has provided a place for seniors to gather and play games, hear interesting programs, and engage in arts and crafts. Now it seems that the members are ready to expand the mission to include providing a caring community and to be advocates for seniors when it comes to government programs and services offered by other organizations.
The twenty-two recommendations of the Aging-in-Place Task Force remain largely unfulfilled a year after they were presented to Borough Council. The Council did include two grants of $5,000 each to community organizations to provide senior programming. The Public Library and the Recreation Association have not yet determined how they plan to spend the grant money. The Senior Association has reached out to both organizations, as well as to the Community Center and other groups, to work toward some common goals.
Association president Linton Stables explained, “Council did not include guidance in its budget documents on how the grant money should be spent, so it falls to us to advocate for programs that will benefit not just seniors, but all residents. Council member Ross Schmucki has been very helpful in getting the groups together to have these discussions.”
Stables also would like to see other groups involved, such as the various congregations, the Community Arts Center, Swarthmore College, and the Schoolhouse Center.
The Swarthmore Senior Citizens Association meets weekly on Wednesdays at noon (The Gathering Place) at the Swarthmore United Methodist Church, 129 Park Avenue. All are welcome to attend.