Doug Yourga and Jeanne Horrigan: Amherst Senior Center needs help

The Bangs Center in Amherst

The Bangs Center in Amherst FILE PHOTO

Published: 01-25-2024 11:03 AM

We serve as volunteers on behalf of the elderly population of the town of Amherst. We represent the interests of more than 5,500 senior citizens and concerned members of their families through the Friends of the Amherst Senior Center and the Amherst Council on Aging.

On Jan. 8, we took the opportunity to address the Amherst Town Council about some of our many concerns. The Amherst Senior Center is understaffed and underfunded.

Similar towns, such as South Hadley, spend about $117 per member of its senior population on their senior center while Amherst spends only slightly more than $45. South Hadley has seven full-time staff members while Amherst has only four.

Many towns in the Pioneer Valley have chosen to build new, modern and efficient senior centers to offer a vast variety of programs, while Amherst has chosen to drastically reduce the amount of space for its seniors. South Hadley offers 16,000 square feet of space for activities, while Amherst offers barely over 2,000 square feet dedicated to the senior center. Three other rooms are shared by the seven organizations housed at the Bangs Community Center.

Our present facility doesn’t pass Massachusetts state code. The kitchen of the Bangs Center is so woefully inadequate that the Senior Center can serve little more than coffee and donuts. The safety of the entire facility would also benefit from the installation of security cameras.The needs of Amherst seniors have been neglected for far too long!

We have gathered out of deep concern for the well-being of Amherst’s senior population. We intend to bring about positive change for Amherst’s seniors. As members of the Council on Aging and the Friends of the Amherst Senior Center, we plan to work with the Town Council to provide Amherst’s seniors the building and services they so richly deserve.

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Please express your support for Amherst’s seniors to members of the Town Council, because while its members are elected to serve you, they can’t if they aren’t aware of your wishes. Thank you for your support.

Dick Yourga

President of the Friends
of the Amherst Senior Center

Jeanne Horrigan

President of the Council on Aging

Dennis Vandal

Member of the Friends
and the Council on Aging

Marc Barrette

Member of the Friends
and the Council on Aging