Hilltown Voices: Gibeau settling in as director of Chesterfield’s active and expanding COA

For the Gazette
Friday, December 01, 2017

CHESTERFIELD — Chesterfield’s new Counsel on Aging director, Jan Gibeau, has been on the job for three months now and says she is enjoying how it keeps her on her toes, as she has “big shoes to fill.”

Gibeau, 78, took over the position after former director Nancy Braxton retired in August after seven years of service.

“Nancy is a very talented woman,” Gibeau said. “She did amazing things here and she is badly missed.”

Under Braxton’s leadership, the COA secured increasing funding from the town and grants from the state that greatly boosted activities and programming and allowed the COA to hire a publicity assistant and an account and finance manager.

“I feeI that I put good programming in place and left things a little livelier than when I arrived,” Braxton said. “It is a more professionally run center now and wonderful to have Jan there, as she is the ultimate professional with an extensive background in gerontology.”

Gibeau said that she has always had a fondness for seniors.

“I fell in love with old people when I was in high school and worked in a nursing home,” she said. “Now I am one.”

Gibeau has worked as an executive in health, mental health and social service settings for over 30 years.

A registered nurse, she has worked at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, D.C., and she has served as the general manager of older adult services at McLean Hospital in Belmont — an affiliate of Mass General Hospital; executive director of Franklin County Home Care; CEO of Charles River Hospital West; and Clinical Director of SAGE, the country’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender older adults.

“I’m like an old rubber boot,” she joked. “I have kicked around.”

Gibeau also currently serves on the Goshen school committee, the finance committee, senior housing committee, COA outreach committee and Hilltown Community Development Corporation’s senior transportation committee. She is also the chairwoman of the seven-town Northern Hilltowns COAs Consortium.

As well as building on the COA’s programs already in place, Gibeau said that access to health care is another important issue about which she is passionate.

“People in the community need more advocacy around getting good health care and getting hooked up with good services,” she said.

With all of her experience and professional acumen, Gibeau is also known for her wry sense of humor and being a down-to-earth community member.

A New Hampshire native, she grew up in the small village of Penacook, which she calls a quintessential “poke and plum town.”

“I am a country girl,” she said. “That’s why I love it here; I love Chesterfield.”

To find out more about the Chesterfield COA, call 296-4007.

Holiday Hob Nob

CUMMINGTON — The 11th annual Hilltown Holiday Hob Nob will take place Saturday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Cummington Village Church.

This holiday gift exchange is designed to be fun and social, and focuses on more sharing and less consumption.

Come with gift-quality items such as books, toys, clothing, art, gadgets and games that you already have, but no longer want or need.

All gifts will be displayed for participants to choose from.

Bring a small plate of goodies to share if you wish.

Community carol sing

GOSHEN — On Sunday, Dec. 10, the Goshen Congregational Church will host a community carol sing, beginning at 3 p.m.

This family-friendly event is open to the public. A brass quartet from Ashfield will accompany singers this year.

Refreshments will be served after the musical festivities. The Church is located at 45 Main St.

Ideas for this column on life in the Hilltowns can be sent to Fran Ryan at fryan.gazette@gmail.com.