By Amelia Tarallo
Hometown Weekly Staff
In non-pandemic times, the Westwood Council on Aging (COA) is a pillar of senior life in town. With the coming of COVID, its role became ever more vital - and it rose to the occasion admirably, despite having to close the Patricia Carty-Larkin Senior Center to the public.
For COA regulars, though, nothing could replicate the experience of visiting the center and interacting with friends in person. And so, while the Westwood Council on Aging heroically looked out for the welfare of the town's senior population, a large segment of that population waited patiently for a return to Nahatan Street.
On Monday, September 13, the waiting was over. At last, seniors were invited back for a day filled with joy at the COA.
Upon checking in, seniors were welcomed to the festivities, and soon began seeing the lively activity and smiling faces they'd been missing since March of 2020. Those in attendance saw a cooking demonstration and received some brand new recipes. Outside, they interacted with Police Officer Sean Pillai and his canine partner, Duke, who led several search demonstrations throughout the day. A country band and a reggae band played for the music lovers in the crowd.
Margaret Loughnane was supposed to attend the 2020 Saint Patrick’s Day party at the center until the pandemic locked everything down. As it did for many seniors, the welcome-back soirée represented her first time returning to the center since. “I’m just so glad to see everyone. It’s such a beautiful day and they’ve done such a great job organizing it. I hope they all continue to have a happy year,” said Loughnane.
Picnic tables set up outside were filled with attendees. Some eagerly walked to see friends for the first time in over a year, while others joined strangers at tables to strike up a conversation. Just steps away were four food trucks. Attendees had their choice between burgers, chicken sandwiches and grilled cheese, while dessert could be found at the ice cream truck.
For regulars at the Council on Aging, the party signaled a return to normal life. “It’s great to be back and start a normal routine again,” said one attendee as she enjoyed lunch.
“It’s nice to be back after being housebound for 18 months,” agreed another.
The past year has been difficult for everyone but especially those most vulnerable to the virus. The party at the Patricia Carty-Larkin Senior Center marked a new beginning for seniors who have had to hit the pause button over the last year. With a little luck, those days seem to be behind for residents. Once more they will be able to enjoy programs, visit with friends, and grab lunch at the Westwood COA.