WILMINGTON, MA — Wilmington Elderly Services Director Terri Marciello and Wilmington Fire Lietuenant Bill Cavanaugh were recently recognized by the Board of Selectmen for their successful implementation of the “Remember When” fire and fall prevention program at the Wilmington Senior Center.
After receiving a grant, Marciello and Cavanaugh both traveled to San Antonio last year for a 3-day conference to receive the necessary training from the National Fire Protection Association.
“The training gave us a baseline for what we wanted to do and accomplish,” said Cavanaugh. “They encouraged us to come up with what you think will work for your community, recognizing every community is different.”
“We wanted to make the program engaging and fun for the elders,” said Marciello. “We made it a 6-month program, from January to June, with one meeting a month. Each meeting featured a discussion on different topic, whether it be smoke detectors, electric heathers, Lifeline, safety equipment, etc. Programs sometimes featured guest speakers.”
“One of the best things we did,” continued Marciello,”was to have each senior experience handling a fire extinguisher.”
Marciello and Cavanaugh handed out certificates to more than 30 seniors at last week’s final meeting. Both Town Manager Jeff Hull and Karen Berard-Reed, who oversees the “Remember When” program for the National Fire Protection Association, were on hand for the celebration. Berard-Reed was impressed with what she saw.
Marciello and Cavanaugh both noted that Laura Pickett, the Senior Center’s Case Manager who makes frequent home visits, also played a key role in the program.
“We go into their homes and do home safety inspections,” said Cavanaugh. “We give them pointers of what we think they could do to say in their home as long as possible.”
“We really want seniors to be safe in their home. We’re not there to say ‘you’re doing this wrong,’ but just to share information to make for a safer environment,” said Marciello.
Cavanaugh and Marciello will be keeping track of the number of falls, and various other safety-related statistics, in order to measure the program’s effectiveness.
The program will continue with a class of new students this fall.
“We will continue this program with S.A.F.E. Mass funds,” said Cavanaugh. “It will probably be twice a year — a fall/winter semester, then a spring/summer semester. We’ll start again this September. And members from [the first semester] are already looking forward to speaking to the new members about what they learned.”
Marciello and Cavanaugh noted that feedback from participating seniors was overwhelmingly positive.
“They loved it,” said Cavanaugh. “Lessons were slated for two hours. Many went as long as 2.5 to 3 hours.”
“Thank you for finding the grant money and implementing this program,” said Selectman Mike Champoux. “And thank you for such great inter-department collaboration.”
“Terri, this is just another example of you go above and beyond to offer unique offerings to our seniors,” said Selectman Greg Bendel. “Lieutenant, I appreciate what you do for both our seniors and students, and for helping keep Wilmington safe.”
“This sounds like it was a great program. I’m very positive [towards it],” said Selectman Kevin Caira.
“This was money well spent that will pay dividends,” said Selectman Mike McCoy. “You’re helping folks — plain and simple. That’s what it’s all about. I appreciate what you both did to make this happen.”
“I appreciate what you bring to this great community. Thank you for helping our seniors” said Selectman Ed Loud, who noted his mother-in-law speaks very highly of the Senior Center’s programs.
“We’ve got two great folks here. This collaboration was incredible. They’re clearly invested in what they do,” remarked Town Manager Jeff Hull.
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