We all have much to be grateful for this Holiday Season. As we wind down 2022, we celebrate having found new hope and joy in rediscovering what we do best this year: working together, in person, to uplift and support older adults, persons with disabilities, and caregivers.
As we reflect on the gifts of this past year, we deeply appreciate the teamwork and partnerships which were created and strengthened within our professional networks. In 2022, there has been more collaboration than ever as all organizations have returned to more “normal” operations and in-person work. For WMEC, 2022 was marked by rebuilding our programs and services, reuniting our team, and rekindling connections with colleagues. The relief of being able to regularly meet in person again – with one another, and most importantly, with our consumers – has been immense. WMEC’s client-facing staff across programs continued what they do best – teaming up with our direct care partners to ensure that our consumers and their caregivers receive high-quality, person-centered care and support in their homes.
With many COVID restrictions lifted this year, our staff was once again out in the community, educating community members about WMEC services and other helpful resources. Options Counseling and Community Resources staff tabled at several health fairs, and WMEC staff also presented live Healthy Living Program workshops at the Ludlow Council on Aging and other locations. We started a new Caregiver Support Group at the South Hadley Council on Aging, facilitated by WMEC’s own Family Caregiver Specialist. We resumed in-person dining services in partnership with local Councils on Aging and housing sites which host our Community Table programs in South Hadley, Granby, Chicopee, and Holyoke. Our Nutrition Team offered innovative Nutrition Education opportunities to participants in these programs, as well as to our home-delivered meal recipients. The Rainbow Social Club for older adults in the LGBTQ+ community resumed their monthly gatherings at the Holyoke Council on Aging, enjoying meals and enriching discussions with one another.
This past year also saw the Holyoke Food Coalition strengthening its efforts to share information and resources across agencies to ensure that all parties know what food distribution, changes, and advocacy are happening in real-time, as food insecurity continues to impact so many individuals and families in our community. We also bid a fond farewell to Fernandez Restaurant in July and thank the Fernandez family who offered a Latino lunch program for older adults in partnership with WMEC for nearly 15 years. We are excited to have launched a new Latino Restaurant Elder Dining Service offered at Taino’s Restaurant & Bakery, also located in Holyoke. We continue advocacy efforts with our supportive state and federal legislative delegations and had a successful March for Meals campaign in the early Spring.
In this season of giving, please express your gratitude and support for WMEC and others who have helped those most vulnerable during this continued public health emergency by making a gift online today. Your support enables us to continue to invest in our staff, our greatest resource, so they are empowered to carry out our mission to preserve the dignity, independence, and quality of life of older adults and persons with disabilities desiring to remain within their own community. As we head into 2023, we will continue to be here every day for those who need services and support, and are enormously grateful to our staff, volunteers, and partners who make it all possible.