WESTBROOK — The town will hold a special meeting tonight in order to approve portions of $2 million in federal coronavirus relief funds that would benefit senior citizens in town.
First Selectman John Hall said that the Board of Finance and the Board of Selectman wanted to direct the funding towards the people who were the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic: seniors, youth and those in an economically tenuous position.
Sara Zaientz, the director of Westbrook’s Youth and Family Services, said that her agency, along with the Senior Center, Social Services and the Visiting Nurses Association, wanted to prioritize senior citizens because of the need that came out of COVID.
“We all felt that that was the community that was very significantly impacted by COVID. Many of them were at high risk, so they were not leaving the house,” she said.
Zaientz said that the $25,000 would go toward increased clinical hours so that her agency could run groups at the town’s senior center. She said that Youth and Family Services runs a healthy aging group, with the goal of having people not only talk to her staff, but talk to one another. She said it allows them to make connections within the community.
“The reason we identified seniors is it’s really a very fast-growing population in Westbrook,” said Zaientz. She added that the agency was seeing many more seniors coming in with clinical needs.
Another $31,000 is destined for the Senior Center, and $5,000 will be going to the Visiting Nurses Association. Zaientz said a lot of Senior Center funding would go toward buying food for seniors and addressing food security, as well as making sure seniors were able to get to appointments.
Shoreline Soup Kitchens will receive $10,000 to buy a refrigerated truck.
Hall said that many seniors are still reluctant to leave the house because of the pandemic — he said senior center staff has been purchasing groceries and delivering them to people who haven’t wanted to risk going to the supermarket.
An additional $25,100 will be allocated to Westbrook Social Services. Hall said that Social Services spent a lot of money during the pandemic helping people who had lost their jobs, assisting people who couldn’t afford their rent and who needed a warm place to sleep. The additional money will help seniors pay rent, utility bills, medical bills, taxes and for gasoline.
The Special Town Meeting is set for Thursday, November 18 at 7 p.m. in the Mulvey Municipal Center.