The Claire Teague Senior Center was built on land donated by the Town of Great Barrington, and construction was financed with grant money from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Center was intended to serve residents of nine communities. The Town of Great Barrington owns the building and pays the salary of the Director, an Administrative Assistant and the Custodian.
The need for the Senior Center is abundantly clear. According to 2010 Census, in Great Barrington alone, 1,875 of our 7,104 residents are sixty years and older. That’s almost 38% of our population. Seniors are the fastest growing population in the town.
Here’s an excerpt from a typical week’s calendar of events at the Center:
In recent years, the number of meals the Claire Teague Center offers to seniors has doubled. Monday through Friday, Claire Teague serves warm lunch meals at 11:30 supplied by Elder Services of Berkshire County. In 2010, there were 7,929 meals served at the Center, an increase of 17% over 2009. The Claire Teague Center is now the largest meal site in Berkshire County.
The Center offers a variety of regular clinics focusing on the health and medical needs of seniors. In addition to clinics on Blood Pressure, Diabetes, Foot Care, and Hearing Aid service, the Center hosts meetings of the Caregiver Support Program and Women with Cancer Support Group. The Center also offers health talks and health assessments by a variety of health professionals. There were 1,360 usages of these health clinics in 2010, an increase of 86% over 2009; and 12,500 usages of the support groups.
The Center offers a range of exercise and movement programs for seniors including maintaining balance, flexibility and weight control. There are either weekly or daily offerings in light resistance training, Tai Chi, yoga, tap dance, low impact, Osteo, chair exercise, and swimming. There was a 40% increase in participation from 2009 to 2010.
There are many opportunities for seniors to participate in the arts at the Center. There are classes in folk arts, painting, quilting, and a “Crafty Hands” group.
Socializing is at the heart of what happens at Claire Teague. It’s an opportunity for seniors to gather together, to stay connected, and learn from their peers. It’s a way to enjoy each day. The Center offers a chance to play cards, Bingo, Dominoes, Scrabble, and bocce. There’s an Out-to-Lunch Group and a “Wii” Exercise Group. There’s the weekly coffee and bagel hour, movies, trips and pool. These programs were used 12,250 times in 2010, an increase of 12.5% over 2009.
Games at the Center
Seniors are counseled on a whole range of health insurance issues. The Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs provides a counselor from the SHINE program (Serving the Health Information Needs of Elders.) The SHINE counselor offers advice and help navigating the complicated issues of the Medicare program, Medicare supplements, Medicare HMOs, prescription drug coverage and long-term health insurance. Help is also available with food and housing assistance. The Center also hosts an AARP-run tax assistance program in February, March, and April.
Other educational efforts include the monthly book club run by a staffperson from The Bookloft, a Memoir-writing group and a computer lab staffed by the Tech Department at Monument Mountain High School. These activities saw an increased participation of 44% in 2010.
The Center has made a major effort to collaborate with other community organizations. In conjunction with Southern Berkshire Elderly Transportation (SBETC), the Center transports seniors to monthly community dinners hosted by Berkshire South Community Center in Great Barrington and Breaking Bread Kitchen at the American Legion Hall in Sheffield. The Center co-sponsored its annual fall picnic at Lake Mansfield with Fairview Commons Nursing & Rehabilitation as well as the Lake Mansfield Alliance and the Great Barrington Garden Club.
Are you interested in learning more about the great work of the Claire Teague Center? We have posted copies of the monthly newsletter on our Newsletter page. Click here to download copies from 2011 to the present.