ROCHESTER — The town's Council on Aging is in the midst of gathering data to qualify for the National Councils On Aging certification, a process it must go through every five years to gain better access to COA-related grants.
But COA Director Sharon Lally isn't concerned about the results. "This place is always hopping," Lally said of the council's Dexter Lane center.
Most notably, the Rochester center, she said, is the only senior center in the state to offer a daily breakfast, served by volunteers from the Friends of Rochester Seniors and the Rochester Lions Club. "It often fills the room," she said.
For that program, the Rochester COA won a Massachusetts Councils on Aging award for innovative programming in 2009, Lally noted.
But the center's accomplishments and special features don't end there. Its fitness room for which the council reconfigured the entire building to add, opens five days a week and is always in use. Its popular fitness classes include weekly evening Zumba, too.
Its regular conversational French classes, which were started one year ago, are always so well attended that "we're bursting at the seams," Lally said. Its Quarterly Birthday parties, which invite all COA members with a birthday during that quarter for one big celebration, usually fill the 100-seat-capacity activities room, not counting the number of seniors that prefer a take-out order.
The center's regular van trips to sites and events across New England are so popular, Lally said, that sometimes all three of the COA vans, seating a total of 30 passengers, are used.
In September, the center is going to the Big E Country Fair in Springfield. "Think the Rochester Country Fair, 10 times bigger," she said.
The daily lunch sometimes includes barbecue chicken or a Pampered Chef demonstration. Coming up is the center's annual picnic, which will serve attendees inside and outside the building and feature music by Voices In Time, a local youth singing and dancing group.
Fitting right in with handling this level of COA center activity is the recent addition of a part-time marketing and social media coordinator. Miranda Bessie is a soon-to-be senior at Old Colony Vocational Technical High School in Rochester who is majoring in computer science. She has started issuing streamlined news releases on center activities and is updating the website and Facebook page.
Lally said, without showing the least bit of worry, that the paperwork for national re-certification has been submitted and a visit from a MCOA inspector will happen in a couple of weeks.
All off the above bodes well for the results.