Dream come true - The new Foxboro Senior Center was completed in 1998 and has flourished ever since. (Robert Gillis Photo)
Dream come true – The new Foxboro Senior Center was completed in 1998 and has flourished ever since. (2003 Robert Gillis Photo)

by Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter, 8/1997

Pay attention, folks; this one’s important. You might see the “Seniors” page in this paper each week and think, “I’m not a senior” or you might say, “Oh, another column about the seniors,” and turn the page.

Stop. Read this. It’s important.

If you’ve lived in this town for more than a day you know all about the Foxboro seniors’ search for a new home. You know about the impressive Council on Aging (COA) providing dozens of services, as well as the enthusiasm and determination of its director, Lorraine Garland.

What you may not know is that there are important and exciting things happening for Foxboro’s seniors, and your help is required.

First up is the news of the senior’s new ride. I saw it parked in the gleaming sunlight by Saint Marys last Sunday. You might have seen it driving around town. Shiny. New. Very safe.

The first thing that catches your eye about the new “Van-Go” is its impressive size. This new vehicle is clearly an improvement over the original — not just more spacious (you don’t need to crouch down as you board it) but you can feel the safety. The “new car” scent fills you as you look around. Next to the fire extinguisher and first aid kit are state of the art controls and a clean and luxurious interior. The seats are comfortable, and there are large emergency exits and even foam padding around the handle bars. In every way, this is a much safer and more comfortable ride more befitting a growing and important percentage of the community.

However, the most important thing to note about the new Van-Go is that 100% of the money to acquire it was raised by Foxboro’s seniors. That’s a point Garland wants to make sure everybody understands clearly.

“I’m so proud of the seniors,” she beamed. “They fund-raised for five years for the new Van-Go. It was constant fund-raising, constant.” She continued, “We’re the only town in the state that had to buy their own van,” relating a story of how the town of Plainville recently got the State to buy their new senior van.

It’s been a long and frustrating journey for Foxboro seniors, not just to buy the new van but also seeing the dream of the new senior center come to life.

“I really want to see this building. It’s just my dream to get this up,” one senior related. Another senior added sadly that there were times when she doubted the building would ever be constructed. But things are definitely turning around, and ground-breaking for the new senior center should begin over the next few weeks.

“It was a dream … Now it’s happening!” Garland says enthusiastically. At this writing, an architect, Akro Associates, has been chosen, and the contractor bids are in. By the time you read this, the contractor will have been selected.

However, the construction of the building is only the first big step — the journey isn’t over — and here’s where that help I mentioned earlier is needed. Your help.

There will be fund-raisers. Many of them. From people organizing spaghetti dinners to huge campaigns, there are many events coming to benefit the new center. Here are three you should mark on your calendar:

First up on September 22 from 7-9pm is the annual Stone Street Strummer event. For only $6 you get warm apple crisp, ice cream, coffee or tea, and wonderful entertainment. I attended the Stone Street Strummers “Strawberry Shortcake” event a few years back, and enjoyed a really a fun evening, with a band playing golden age songs on guitars, fiddles, banjos, and even a washboard! The good feelings that night were contagious.

Three days later on September 25 comes the third annual senior hot dog picnic on the common at the “Common Dog” stand (the rain date is October 2). Lunch will be two hot dogs, chips, soda and a small desert for $5.00. The stand will be donating all food and drinks, and 100% of the proceeds from the day benefit the seniors. This is always a fun time.

Halloween will be over for a mere nine hours when the wonderful senior Christmas fair will begin at 9am on November 1 at the Lewis School. While it might seem a bit rushed to go from “trick-or-treat” to “deck the halls” in one day, the Christmas fair is always held on the first Saturday of November, due to Garland’s very heavy workload with the discretionary fund Christmas food baskets and gifts. The fair is always a warm and enjoyable event, with plenty of food and deserts, crafts, gifts, items hand-made by the seniors, white elephant tables, plants, and other surprises, including the raffle of a beautiful quilt hand-made by Garland’s parents. This is one event not to be missed — get some of your holiday shopping done early!

Fund raisers aside, Garland is hoping that the community will lend a hand once the center is actually built, because neither the town money to construct the building nor the grant Garland has applied for allow furnishing expenses.

(A note on the grant: Garland completed the 236 double-paged grant application in about two and one half weeks — very impressive, considering “It’s a process that’s supposed to take a year.” Garland went on to explain that if approved, the moneys would be used for such things as a salary budget for a clerk of the works and for a project director. “We would use the money to make what we’ve got even better.”

Once construction is complete, furnishings and start-up supplies will be needed. A major fund raising appeal headed by town selectmen Gerry Rodman is underway, with mailings to nearly every address in Foxboro. The letter will identify which furnishings and moneys are needed.

Please folks, be generous. Do what you can. In a season filled with United Way campaigns at work, the Jerry Lewis MDA telethon and countless appeals from every worthy cause, please, please help your town’s seniors too. I could say that you should do this because over 20% of Foxboro’s population are seniors that they are a vital and important party of our town, or I could say please do it because you too will one day be a senior.

But let me give you the best reason of all to help: Our seniors have put their hearts and souls into this, and they have waited far, far too long for this day.

Please help them any way you can.

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