While the Mayor Jean A. Levesque Community Life Center is closed to the public, the Community Services division of the City has worked to engage older adults, youngsters, families, and veterans despite the limitations imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Salem Council on Aging team is offering exercise classes via Zoom and collaborating with SATV to offer wellness classes weekday mornings. Through our Facebook page, residents can access information on virtual classes, fraud alerts and more. We’ve continued the publication of Senior Power, the Council on Aging’s monthly newsletter to keep participants and residents informed of current news.

Social Services had been especially busy at the onset of the pandemic identifying those who are food insecure and worked with the Health Department and Elder Services to make sure seniors had food and essentials. The team worked with Program Manager Kathy McCarthy who led the effort to pair over sixty seniors with volunteer shoppers. Food security continues to be an ongoing priority. The team works to ensure that isolated seniors are safe and their needs met including some referrals made for Behavioral Health services. Ongoing outreach includes assistance with health insurance, housing applications and providing resources to additional services.

At the start of the pandemic, Transportation was reduced to essential medical appointments only. Now, the team is providing rides to other medical appointments with trips to grocery stores starting mid-August. With physical distancing and sanitization, we hope to offer additional trips incrementally while following suggested guidelines for safety.

The Council on Aging will slowly bring back outdoor programming in August and September and work with local officials heeding restrictions and safety guidelines regarding indoor programming in the fall.

Our Park and Recreation Department was able to offer some outdoor programs for youth and adults this summer following all the guidelines and regulations set forth by the state. All programs are limited to ten participants, require social distancing, held outdoors, require face coverings for both staff and participants and daily health and wellness checks are completed.

For our adult groups we offered a free yoga class at Winter Island taught by local fitness instructor, Beth Shultz. We also partnered with B & S Fitness to provide a Full Body Strength Conditioning class on Salem Common. Both these classes were filled to capacity and it was an excellent opportunity to bring fitness back to our participants.

Our Kids Paddle, Teen Paddle and Teen Kayak are very popular this summer. All ten sessions are filled and offer youth a chance to appreciate these wonderful waterfront activities. We are pleased to be working with Coast to Coast Paddle to provide these programs.

Playgrounds during the Summer of 2020 are run differently than in past years. The pandemic changed how we could implement programs at the playgrounds. We worked hard to create programs that would be fun, while keeping the safety of our staff and children our top priority. This summer, Playground Crafts and Fun was developed to provide a traditional playground craft and a non-contact activity for an hour and a half each morning. Running this program allowed us to be visible at more of Salem’s playgrounds.

Working with local science educator, James Eric Rogers, we were able to offer a Junior Artist and Scientist Club at Pioneer Village. Using this location provided a natural backdrop for learning about local herbs, making bird feeders and planting seeds.

Through funding from the City of Salem Planning Department Community Development and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development we are able to offer some free programs to our Salem Youth. The summer we offered programs to include Yoga and Meditation, Hip Hop Dance, Boys Lacrosse Clinic, Art Workshop and Girls Lacrosse Clinic.

Another key aspect of the CLC is that we also house the Office of Veterans Services. Although not open to the public, staff have been in the office every day managing the various veteran services available to those who have served our country. Anyone who has ever served or their widows (ers), should contact Kim Emerling to insure they are receiving any possible benefit they may be entitled to such as additional month to month financial support, Veterans Administration disability benefits, VA healthcare benefits, education and housing benefits to name a few.

Patricia O’Brien, Superintendent of Park, Recreation and Community Services 978-744-0924
Kim Emerling, Director of Veterans Services 978-745-0883
Teresa Gove Arnold, Director of the Council on Aging 978-744-0924

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