Easthampton Senior Center to add position of program director

  • Cynthia Tarail is the director of the Easthampton Council On Aging. The city last week agreed to create a new position of program manager as part of a larger reorganizing of positions within the department. gazette file photo

Staff Writer
Published: 10/24/2022 2:05:58 PM
Modified: 10/24/2022 2:05:46 PM

EASTHAMPTON — Since taking the helm as the director of the Council on Aging a year ago, Cynthia Tarail says she’s gotten a real sense of the needs of the city’s senior center.

“With people out because of COVID-19 and us being so short-staffed, I’ve had to do almost every job at the center at one point or another except driving the van,” Tarail said. “But, I’m actually really glad because now I know what we need to operate the Senior Center.”

During that time, Tarail discovered that some employees were performing duties beyond their job description, which led her to reorganize some of the Council on Aging positions and, most significantly, add the position of program manager to its ranks. The City Council approved the position last week.

New position

During the pandemic, two part-time employees — who held the roles of publicity director and volunteer coordinator — left the Council on Aging and were not replaced. Instead, their work was absorbed by Tarail and Dawn Graichen-Moore, who has held the role of activities coordinator at the center for more than three years.

In juggling more responsibilities, Tarail began to examine the job descriptions of her staff. In Graichen-Moore’s case, the activities coordinator was a 20-hour position that is supposed to assist the director in coming up with activities, not be the one taking the lead, said Tarail.

“When I took this position as director a year ago, I had no idea — having not seen the job description — that she was supposed to be assisting me,” she said. “And everything seemed like it was going along fairly well, except that I realized she only had 20 hours in which to do this job.”

Tarail also noted that Graichen-Moore’s pay did not match the amount of work she was doing. In looking at the description of roles and responsibilities at other area senior centers, she found that what Graichen-Moore was doing was more like that of a “program manager,” and proposed adding the new position.

“What we need are activities that are planned with careful evaluation and strategic planning. And this position doesn’t allow for that, and that is all left to the director,” she said. “With COVID-19, our jobs have grown because the needs of seniors have grown.”

The 30-hour program manager position comes with an hourly salary range of $21.94-$28.80 and the Council on Aging is currently advertising the position internally.

According to the job description, the program manager is responsible for planning, organizing and implementing a variety of programs for the Council on Aging, including civic, social, cultural, recreational and fitness/wellness activities. The position manages the production of both regular activities and special events, oversees the maintenance and marketing of the center’s activities and events and works to develop relationships with city departments, related agencies, organizations and businesses. The program manager will also assist the director with needs assessments, program evaluations, and fundraising.

“The bottom line is that a lot of people disappeared during the pandemic. It will take a lot of work to get people to come back to the center. We also want to attract new people who might not have realized that the center could be them,” Tarail said. “And the planning, strategizing and marketing required in letting people know about the center and all of our activities has been shoved aside for the everyday work we do.”

Once the new position is filled, the activities coordinator position will be removed.

Tasks previously defined under the activities coordinator position will be split between the program manager and the 35-hour principal clerk, a position which the city had previously created.

The Council on Aging is currently interviewing applicants for the clerk position as well as the 35-hour outreach worker position that has been vacant since August.

“We’re not increasing the number of full-time employees with our reconstituted positions. Our plan is to accomplish more and do better work for the seniors of Easthampton with the current staffing plan we’re putting into place,” Tarail said.

Emily Thurlow can be reached at ethurlow@gazettenet.com.
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