As we reflect on 2022, we see a lot of interwoven threads – an ongoing struggle with the impacts of COVID-19, as well as new hope and strength helping WMEC find our way forward and beyond the pandemic. At the heart of this new hope is the joy we have found in rediscovering what we do best – working together, in person, to uplift and support older adults and persons with disabilities in our community.
More than anything, 2022 was marked by rebuilding our programs and services, and a reuniting of our team here at WMEC and our partnerships in the community. The relief of being able to regularly meet in person again – with one another, and with our consumers – has been immense. Our Board of Directors and Citizens Advisory Council resumed their meetings here at WMEC’s office and at Councils on Aging throughout our community. Our Rainbow Social Club resumed their monthly gatherings at the Holyoke Council on Aging, enjoying meals and discussions with one another. Behind the scenes, WMEC’s Care Managers 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.
2022 also gave our staff more opportunities to educate and inform community members about WMEC services and other helpful resources. Our Options Counselors tabled at several health fairs, and WMEC staff presented live Healthy Living Program workshops including “My Life, My Health” at the Ludlow Council on Aging. We started a new Caregiver Support Group at the South Hadley Council on Aging, facilitated by WMEC’s own Family Caregiver Specialist. We also rebranded our Congregate Dining Program, offering outreach and innovative Nutrition Education programming to both home-delivered meal recipients and “Community Table” participants in South Hadley, Granby, Chicopee, and Holyoke.
Another celebratory milestone happened this September when our staff reconvened for WMEC’s Annual Employee Appreciation Picnic at the Summit View in Holyoke. Like so many employers, WMEC has hired many new staff this last year, but we are deeply proud of the commitment of so many of our skilled employees who provided consistent and compassionate care to our consumers this last year. Among the many service awards distributed was one for Ginger Cruickshank, who has completed 45 years of service for WMEC this year. Now that’s staying power!
We enter 2023 with a renewed resolve to serve 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. We are, as ever, thankful for the support of local officials and state and federal legislative delegations. The guidance, time, and skills of WMEC’s Board of Directors, Citizens’ Advisory Council, and Money Management Advisory Council are invaluable. Finally, we thank YOU, our consumers, volunteers, and community partners, for entrusting and empowering us to continue to care for our community’s most vulnerable into the next year and beyond.
President, Board of Directors