Salem Unveils “Happy to Chat” Bench Program
AARP grant to Salem for All Ages funds new initiative to facilitate community connections
Salem, MA –The City of Salem, through the Salem for All Ages initiative, has received an AARP Massachusetts Small Dollar Big Impact grant to fund the creation and installation of ten “Happy to Chat” benches throughout the community. The first “Happy to Chat” bench was installed late last week on Salem Common. The remaining nine benches will be installed across Salem over the coming weeks.
“Connection is a key part of Salem’s age-friendly action plan,” said Dominick Pangallo, co-chair of Salem for All Ages. “This grant will enable us to install these benches in parks and public spaces throughout our community. The signs invite people to sit and talk with others, to get to know one another, and to help build stronger bonds of connection between residents of all ages. On behalf of Salem for All Ages, we are extremely grateful to AARP Massachusetts for their ongoing support and partnership in our age-friendly efforts here in Salem!”
“Isolation has been identified as one of the largest challenges facing Salem’s older residents,” said Patricia Zaido, co-chair of Salem for All Ages. “This small program has the potential make a big difference in that regard, by offering a safe space for people to open up and have a conversation with a neighbor or even a stranger.”
About Salem for All Ages
In November 2016, the City of Salem formally submitted its age-friendly action plan, Salem for All Ages, to the AARP and the World Health Organization, with the goal of strengthening the City’s commitment to being a community where everyone can age in place comfortably and safely and remain active. The process of preparing that plan started earlier that year, when the City was accepted into the AARP’s national network and WHO global network of Age Friendly communities, becoming the first City on the North Shore to join and only the third in the Commonwealth. In December 2016, AARP and WHO announced that they approved Salem’s plan and work began right away on implementation. The Salem for All Ages Action Plan establishes a vision and action steps, based on the research completed during the study process and public input. Salem for All Ages work in the past has resulted in the creation of the Salem Skipper on-demand ride share program and updating of the City’s accessory dwelling unit rules.
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