South County seniors catch up at ‘Garden Party’ picnic in Deerfield 

  • Seniors gather at the South County Senior Center’s “Garden Party” picnic in South Deerfield on Wednesday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • State Sen. Jo Comerford, D-Northampton, and Rep. Natalie Blais, D-Sunderland, at right, talk to people at the South County Senior Center’s “Garden Party” picnic in South Deerfield on Wednesday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Michelle DeLisio and Lorraine Sanderson talk with Deerfield police officers Jen Bartak and Marissa Smith at the South County Senior Center’s “Garden Party” picnic in South Deerfield on Wednesday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Seniors gather at the South County Senior Center’s “Garden Party” picnic in South Deerfield on Wednesday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 6/17/2022 10:22:49 AM
Modified: 6/17/2022 10:22:39 AM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — The South County Senior Center’s “Garden Party” picnic this week was a chance to reminisce with good friends and share old memories.

Held annually, the picnic brings seniors in Deerfield, Sunderland and Whately together to share a meal and conversation, while also providing an opportunity to chat with local government officials and state legislators, and learn about the numerous resources available to seniors. This year, attendees donned colorful, spring-themed outfits as part of the “Garden Party” theme, which was based off the 1972 Ricky Nelson song of the same name.

“Phenomenal turnout,” said South County Senior Center Director Jennifer Remillard of the more than 100 attendees. “I think everyone is happy to be socializing.”

Folks were happy to see the longstanding tradition continue as they enjoyed good weather and listened to the Fanfare Brass Ensemble.

“It’s nice to celebrate,” said Sunderland resident Carol Ryan, who often visits the Senior Center with Martha Arostam of Deerfield.

“I think it’s wonderful,” Arostam added. “Sue (Corey), Jennifer and Chris (Goudreau) have been doing wonderful things.”

In particular, seniors met with the Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority to get more information on Sanderson Place, the new affordable senior housing complex on North Main Street in Sunderland. The housing authority is seeking more local residents — who will be given a preference in the lottery — to apply. For more information, visit fcrha.org.

The Northwestern district attorney’s office was also on hand to talk to seniors about scams, and the Deerfield Ad-hoc Senior Housing Committee encouraged people to take the town’s housing survey.

Remillard, who is in her first year on the job, thanked the volunteers who helped run the picnic, which included food service from Deerfield, Sunderland and Whately police officers and South County TRIAD.

“It’s been great,” she said. “The community has been welcoming and we had a lot of volunteers come forward. We couldn’t do it without them.”

Deerfield resident Arlene King said the Senior Center staff did a “fantastic job” setting up the picnic. Still, King and others noted they hope the three towns can come up with a permanent location for the Senior Center, which currently splits time between a tent on the lawn and the Holy Family Roman Catholic Church in South Deerfield.

“I only wish we had a Senior Center,” she said.

“(The towns) need to get their priorities straight,” added Ryan, who said the Senior Center staff have done a great job with the resources they have. “It’s hard to keep shuffling from place to place.”

Deerfield Select Board Chairman and Senior Center Board of Oversight member Trevor McDaniel said the towns have been making progress toward moving the Senior Center into its long-term temporary location at the South Deerfield Congregational Church. Currently, the plan is for renovations to begin on the church in September and to finish by December. The Senior Center’s lease with the Holy Family Roman Catholic Church ends Dec. 31.

“We had the state here yesterday,” he said, referencing a visit from local legislators and representatives from the state Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development. “We’re hoping to get some traction.”

In the meantime, McDaniel said events like the annual picnic are a wonderful thing to have in the community.

“We seem to luck out every year,” McDaniel said about the weather. “It’s so nice to see everyone together and enjoying the picnic.”

 


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