It's another day at Andover's Punchard Center and it's a busy scene as usual. Seniors hustle to a lecture or an exercise class, browse the book collection or simply grab lunch with a friend in the cafeteria.
The annual number of people served at the center nearly doubled from 2010 to 2017, according to Ann O'Sullivan, president of the Andover Senior Community Friends, and that growing trend is expected to continue as people continue to live longer.
O'Sullivan said by 2030, 38% of Andover's population will be age 50+; 26% will be over age 60; and at least 50% of them are expected to use the senior center.
Senior center supporters are thrilled that Andover voters unanimously approved a warrant article at the April Town Meeting to spend $4.5 million to renovate and make the Punchard Center more welcoming, up-to-date, spacious and accessible.
“Our senior center is a crucial element to the health and welfare of not just our seniors, but our whole community,” O’Sullivan said. “We are delighted by the support and enthusiasm of so many businesses, foundations and individuals, who understand just how much the renovation is needed.”
In addition to the $4.5 million in town funding, the project's Capital Campaign team has its own fundraising goal of $500,000. So far, more than two-thirds of that amount has been pledged. Local businesses, foundations and individuals are supporting the project, as the Andover Senior Community Friends has already raised over $338,000. The money will be used to address needs beyond construction costs, such as fixtures and furnishings, O'Sullivan said.
The largest pledge to date is $150,000 over three years from the Andover Home for Aged People. Founded in 1890, this charitable foundation provides financial grants to assist Andover seniors.
“This directly fits in with our mission and charter,” Tom Urbelis, president of the foundation, wrote in a press release. “We’re very glad that we could help with this important project.”
Quota International of Andover recently presented a check for $5,000 to help pay for installation costs of the Hearing Loop and Telecoil Technology. Those with hearing aids and cochlear implants will be able to pick up speech in a clear, crisp manner, with background noise eliminated in a room at the renovated senior center.
"Andover Quota is particularly pleased to be able to help the senior center. We are thrilled with the Town Meeting vote approving funding for design studies for the renovation. Our organization supports those in need, often answering calls from abused women and children, and especially the hearing and speech impaired," Beth Poulo of Quota wrote in an email.
Additional pledges have been made by Enterprise Bank, Reading Cooperative Bank, Northbridge Companies (owner of Stone Hill at Andover), and the Jean Griswold Foundation, associated with Griswold Home Care.
Major individual donors include Ellen and Greg Sebasky, Dana and Paul MacKay, and Jane and Joe Gifun.
Other individual donations and pledges have been made by Molly and Chas Bicking, Chrissy and Andrew Chabin, the DeLucca Family Charitable Trust, Barbara J. Kasloh, Dan Koh, Ann C. Lange, Cornelia LeMaitre, Susan and David McCready, Ann and Jeremiah O’Sullivan, Esther P. Pelletier, Don Robb, Kathy and Don Schroeder, Susan A. Schwartz, and Marjorie and Fred Snell.
“Now that the citizens of Andover have supported the renovation through their unanimous vote at Town Meeting, we are hopeful that more donors will come forward and lend their support to the capital campaign,” O’Sullivan said. “Donations will make a difference in the lives of Andover seniors now and in the future.”
Donation and pledge forms can be picked up at the Senior Center and either handed in there or mailed to the Andover Senior Community Friends, P.O. Box 576, Andover, MA 01810. Donations also can be made online on the ASCF website at www.andoverscf.org.