Springville is a wonderful community in which to live, work and play. One of the many jewels of our town is the Senior Center. My wife, Mary Jane, is a volunteer advocate for the Senior Center and the senior citizens of the town and surrounding area. She is a member of the Erie County Senior Services Advisory Board and as such, represents Southern Erie County in helping to bring and coordinate better senior services. One of her most urgent concerns is the underutilization and poorly coordinated activities, due mainly to the lack of a full-time director. We currently have a nice building that is closed a lot of the the time unless a specific activity is scheduled. The abbreviated “Stay -Fit” nutritional lunch program is held there, the Concord Senior Club meets there along with a few other clubs. You can join a euchre group or attend a painting or craft class. These are all scheduled activities.
However, if a senior is lonely or just wants to have coffee with friends, work on a puzzle, read a book or listen to music – that’s not available at the Senior Center even when it is open. Mary Jane has brought these and other concerns to the Concord Town Board at their monthly meetings for the past year and a half. Her main agenda has been to advocate for seniors in the form of a more thriving and vibrant full-time Senior Center.
She has spoken generally short prepared statements during the public comment portion of the board meeting. She has asked for little more than to open a dialog with the board to explore ways to realize the goal of a better experience for seniors at the center. So far she has had virtually no cooperation or any positive response from the board. It seems she is viewed as something of an adversarial antagonist to the outgoing supervisor. At the November meeting she gave a short, positive and upbeat message concerning the nutrition program which needs some adjustments. Eppolito then used his “bully pulpit” to try to humiliate, embarrass and silence her. She was told that he was sick of her advocacy on behalf of the seniors and went so far as to tell her the board neither wanted or needed her suggestions. He even told her she has no right to even address the board since our retirement residence is slightly outside the town’s border.
Some of the other board members privately talked to Mary Jane and expressed a willingness to listen and give serious consideration to her suggestions instead of the arrogant dismissal she has experienced by the current supervisor. Fortunately the recent election brings a new supervisor and councilman who promise to to bring positive change to the board, one with new leadership that respects all citizens and works in good faith to bring about robust town government that works better for all of us.