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With drive-up meal service, Groton Senior Center keeps St. Patrick's Day festive for seniors

Groton — Dressed head-to-toe in green for St. Patrick’s Day, Groton Senior Center Program Supervisor Cindy Olsen cheerfully delivered a takeout meal as a senior drove up to the facility's entrance about lunchtime on Tuesday.

When the Senior Center’s St. Patrick’s Day luncheon — with 100 people scheduled to attend — was canceled after the center closed due to coronavirus precautions, staff still wanted to keep up the festivities for seniors.

So the staff brought meals of corned beef, cabbage, potatoes and carrots to seniors who remained in their cars while picking up the meals.

“I think it’s wonderful,” said Mystic resident Elsa Freedman, who stopped by for the takeout meal. She added that she thinks it will help a lot of seniors.

The Senior Center provided a total of 30 meals, including six deliveries, on Tuesday, the first day the center began offering the takeout meals. While Tuesday’s meal was special for St. Patrick’s Day, the facility's Coastal Café will offer takeout hot meals for $5 each weekday until further notice.

People should call the Senior Center, 102 Newtown Road, at (860) 441-6785 from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. to place an order for a takeout meal, which must be picked up between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Deliveries also are available for homebound seniors.

Warren Cooper of Groton was among the people who drove up for a meal Tuesday. He said he wanted to get corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day, but couldn’t go to a restaurant: “It’s really nice to have options,” he said.

With most places closed, he said he didn’t have any big plans for the day but was doing well: “This, too, shall pass,” he said.

Senior Center Director Mary Jo Riley said it’s important to keep providing meals to the center’s population: “We’re trying to look out for our participants as best we can,” she said, adding that on Monday staff contacted seniors who don’t drive to let them know that the center will be offering deliveries.

Riley said the meal program also keeps the Senior Center’s kitchen staff working and keeps seniors in touch with the facility.

“There are people that we call regularly if we don’t see them,” Riley said. “Well, now we’re not seeing them so this is one way to keep in touch.”

She said it’s a trying time, with some people feeling confused and not sure what to do, so staff is trying to reach out to make sure seniors are doing well and know that the staff is still here.

To keep connected with people, the Senior Center plans to start posting trivia on its Facebook page in which people can call the center if they have the answers and also is posting profiles of its staff, Riley said.

Olsen said it’s important to celebrate the holidays and maintain normalcy in these times.

The meals also are highly important for homebound seniors, who might not have family locally or whose families may be working, she said.

She encouraged anyone who knows somebody who is homebound and can’t get to the store or needs any help to call the Senior Center. She said the facility will be providing transportation for seniors who need to get to medical appointments and can also help connect them with other services or associations, like the Groton Rotary Club, for assistance.

k.drelich@theday.com

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