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Sunday Seniors: Bugbee Center announces reopening plan

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 9/26/2020 9:53:28 PM
Modified: 9/26/2020 9:53:25 PM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — After closing for months, the Bugbee Senior Center plans to reopen in October after getting the go-ahead from the state of Vermont.

“We’re going to take an abundance of caution considering the risk that it poses to the demographic we serve.” said Mark Bradley, who started as executive director of the center located on North Main Street in White River Junction last month. “We don’t want to just throw the doors open, as much as we miss everyone who normally comes in. We’re hoping we’ll be ready by the week of Oct. 12.”

Up to 10 visitors will be allowed at the senior center at any given time, and they will be required to sign up in advance. Social distancing and mask guidelines will apply.

Congregate meals will also make a return.

“We’ll have a slate of events for the first time since March. It’ll include line dancing, senior fitness, the quilting group and a couple other things we have in the works,” Bradley said. “Some of the activities are going to be staggered in.”

Staff will clean between programs and check visitors’ temperatures before they can enter the facility.

“In between each activity we’re going to be enhancing the disinfecting, opening all the doors and windows to increase ventilation,” Bradley said.

Throughout the pandemic, staff have heard from older adults who feel increasingly isolated.

“There were a few times during the closure we were able to have groups of maybe two or three people here to do super-socially distanced lunches, and at that point it really hit home how much the isolation is really impacting the people who come in here all the time,” Bradley said. “It’s only 10 people, but for those 10 people who can come in it’s going to make a huge difference.”

Bugbee staff are also exploring programming they can deliver via Zoom.

“Even after the reopening, there’s going to still be people who can’t come in,” Bradley said.

Takeout meals and meals-on-wheels deliveries will also continue.

“That’s been really important because (when) we’re not doing the congregate meals there’s been an uptick in the number of people who have been signing up for Meals on Wheels,” Bradley said.

Bugbee has received federal and state funding to help with costs, but challenges remain.

“We’re in decent shape, but were really hoping for a strong fundraising year because we’re going to need it,” Bradley said.

Editor’s note: For more information, visit bugbeecenter.org or call 802-295-9068.

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.

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