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By Alex Oliveira
Hometown Weekly Reporter
Last Wednesday afternoon, the Walpole Council on Aging (COA) held their monthly birthday party in the community room of the COA’s newly opened facility.
With an intense card game playing out with intensity at one end of the room, to the other side, seven ladies celebrating their special day this January stood smiling before a small gathering of COA members and staff. “Happy Birthday” was sung at enthusiastic volume, then the party-goers took their places around a pair of balloon-adorned tables while coffee and cake was served.
Since moving into its new space barely two weeks ago, participation at events like Wednesday’s birthday celebration has skyrocketed among seniors at the Council on Aging, according to COA Director Kerri McManama.
“Last year, we provided services to 1,044 seniors in Walpole. However, we’re expecting unprecedented growth this year,” explained McManama. “We already have signed up 175 new members since we opened on the 2nd. That’s 16 percent of our total reach from last year that are brand new, and that’s totally amazing. So we’ve been very busy, seeing consistently over 100 people a day here, which is double what we were doing last year. Sometimes over 150 people a day, which is triple.”
The new space is a far leap from the Council on Aging’s previous digs – the old cafeteria in a Walpole-school-turned-Town-Hall – and seniors are ecstatic about the upgrade.
“That space was smaller than this single room. So, we’ve gone from having this one space which we had to retransform throughout the day for new programs, to having multiple places to socialize. They’ve got a lot more places to do things, we can offer more, so programming is just going to expand and grow. We want them to come and we want them to stay, and now that there’s more space, there’s more we can continue to offer.”
Whether they have a birthday next month or not, Walpole’s seniors are invited to stop by the Council on Aging’s brand-new facility for a tour.