South County seniors reunite at ‘Garden Party’ picnic in Deerfield

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Published: 06/17/2022 10:22:49

Modified: 06/17/2022 10:22:39

SOUTH DEERFIELD — The South County Senior Center’s “Garden Party” picnic this week was a time to reminisce about good friends and share old memories.

Held annually, the picnic brings together older people from Deerfield, Sunderland and Whately to share a meal and conversation, while providing the opportunity to chat with local government officials and state legislators, and learn about the many resources available to seniors. This year, attendees donned colorful spring-themed outfits as part of the “Garden Party” theme, which was based on Ricky Nelson’s 1972 song of the same name.

“A phenomenal turnout, said Jennifer Remillard, director of the South County Senior Center, of the more than 100 attendees. “I think everyone is happy to socialize.”

People were happy to see the longstanding tradition continue as they enjoyed the nice weather and listened to the Fanfare Brass Ensemble.

“It’s nice to celebrate,” said Sunderland resident Carol Ryan, who often visits the Senior Center with Deerfield’s Martha Arostam.

“I think it’s wonderful,” added Arostam. “Sue (Corey), Jennifer and Chris (Goudreau) have done wonderful things.”

In particular, seniors met with the Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority to get more information about Sanderson Place, the new affordable housing complex for seniors on North Main Street in Sunderland. The housing authority is looking for more local residents – who will have preference in the lottery – to apply. For more information, visit fcrha.org.

The North West District Attorney’s Office was also on hand to talk to seniors about the scams, and the Deerfield Ad-hoc Senior Housing Committee encouraged people to take part in the city’s housing survey.

Remillard, who is in his first year on the job, thanked the volunteers who helped organize the picnic, which included the Deerfield, Sunderland and Whately police catering service and South County TRIAD.

“It was great,” she said. “The community has been welcoming and we’ve had a lot of volunteers come forward. We couldn’t do it without them.

Deerfield resident Arlene King said staff at the senior center had done a “fantastic job” organizing the picnic. Still, King and others noted they hope the three towns could find a permanent location for the senior center, which currently splits time between a tent on the lawn and the Holy Family Roman Catholic Church in South Deerfield.

“I just wish we had a center for the elderly,” she said.

“(Cities) need to clarify their priorities,” added Ryan, who said Senior Center staff did a great job with the resources they had. “It’s hard to keep hanging around from place to place.”

Deerfield Select chairman and senior center oversight board member Trevor McDaniel said the towns have made progress in moving the main center to its temporary long-term location at the Congregational Church of South Deerfield. Currently, renovations to the church are scheduled to begin in September and end in December. The senior center’s lease with Holy Family Roman Catholic Church ends Dec. 31.

“We had the state here yesterday,” he said, referring to a visit from local lawmakers and officials from the state’s Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development. “We’re hoping to get some traction.”

In the meantime, McDaniel said events like the annual picnic are a wonderful thing to have in the community.

“We seem to get lucky every year,” McDaniel said of the weather. “It’s so nice to see everyone together and enjoy the picnic.”

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