Volunteer & Retirement Engagement Alternatives Program

VOLUNTEERING: “Volunteers Make the World a Better Place




The Brookline Council on Aging and the Brookline Senior Center (BSC) are always happy to enlist new volunteers who can share their talents and program ideas. 

Your contributions would enable us to expand the number and variety of high level programs and activities that are provided for all seniors in Brookline. If you would like to actively pursue volunteer service, please make an appointment with Patricia, the Volunteer Coordinator (617-730-2743) for an opportunity to learn more about the Senior Center & opportunities where you might best share your time and talent. We are always eager to hear new ideas & keep a list of volunteers for special events and future opportunities.

JANUARY SPOTLIGHTED VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES: This month’s spotlighted opportunities include: Food Commodity program on 3rd Wednesday of each month – Russian interpreters morning and afternoon shifts and people able to help with phone calls and/or lifting 30-35 lbs. in the morning; Food Pantry - volunteers for morning and afternoon (able to lift 30 lbs.) set-up, shopping assistance and Russian interpreters for Tuesday afternoons (1-4); Smartphones and other technology -1-on-1 assistance for seniors with their Smartphones and other technology.

If you would like to apply for these or other volunteer opportunities at the BSC, please call Patricia, the Volunteer Coordinator @ 617-730-2743 or email her at pburns@brooklinema.gov to make an appointment to talk about things you like to do, your skills and potential volunteer opportunities.

LEARN TO PLAY OR IMPROVE YOUR CHESS GAME: Are you a beginner chess player or have always wanted to learn how to play? Three Brookline High School seniors who are co-captains of the Brookline High School Chess Club will be at the Senior Center each Friday from 3-5. If you are interested, drop in for a lesson or a game! If you have questions, call Patricia @ 617-730- 2743.

GREATER BOSTON FOOD BANK FOOD COMMODITY PROGRAM: The Greater Boston Food Bank Commodity Program provides shelf-stable food to low income seniors. Two shopping bags of food for each approved participant are delivered to the Brookline Senior Center @ 93 Winchester Street, Sussman House @ 50 Pleasant Street and O’Shea House @ 61 Park Street on the 3rd Wednesday of each month.  

We are actively recruiting new applicants to participate in this program. If you or anyone you know are interested in applying for or finding out more about the program, please call Patricia @ 617-730- 2743 to set up an appointment.

SHOP: “Students Helping Older People”. The Brookline High School has recruited students to shop for seniors. If you are a senior who would like to have a student shop for you, please call Patricia, the Volunteer Coordinator at 617- 730-2743 or email her at pburns@brooklinema.gov.

The S.H.O.P. Program has been a collaboration between the Brookline Senior Center and the community service program at Brookline High School for many years. It is a win-win volunteer opportunity where students grocery shop for a senior in Brookline and seniors share their actual history and experience with students. It is a weekly to biweekly commitment of a few hours that is usually shared with a partner student. It starts with visiting the senior’s home to get a grocery list and cash, then shopping, and returning with the groceries and checking the receipt. Most students stay awhile and visit.

Besides getting the groceries for the senior, the most important part of this program is developing meaningful multigenerational relationships. Some students have shopped for the same person throughout high school and consider their elder an important part of their life. And the feeling is always mutual.


 Tim Sullivan

Tim Sullivan: Supervisor of Mail and Print Operations, Town of Brookline. Tim has been working for the Town of Brookline in this capacity and volunteering within the community and with the Brookline Senior Center for 40 years. He started helping with printing and mailing for the Senior Center when it was just a few rooms at 61 Park Street many years ago. Tim can always be counted on to make time for special and regular print jobs, to fill in distributing the Senior Newsletter and transporting mail to and from the Town Hall – all with a smile and a kind word. He is the Senior Center’s unsung hero.

When asked why he likes coming to the BSC, he says, that the people are so nice. This includes the staff, volunteers and the visitors …and the coffee is good too.

In addition to his extra efforts at the BSC, Tim’s volunteering efforts are appreciated throughout the Town. Tim is very involved in the Town-wide Toys-for Tots collections. He has also been cooking Christmas dinner for seniors in three public housing sites since 1988.  Tim said that he is following his father’s example. His dad started the family tradition one Thanksgiving in South Boston by feeding an elderly couple who had no dinner. Tim does not like to see people suffer so when he saw people with no place to go on Christmas, he felt he had to do something. Each year he and his volunteer team prepare dinner for about 120 people in the three housing sites. Much of the $600-$700 in groceries is paid for by Tim. Tim says that if he can just give his Christmas away every year and see people’s faces light up, it is worth it and pays back an awful lot.

QUOTE FROM THE DIRECTOR, RUTHANN DOBEK: “One of our strengths is recruiting volunteers. We have 364 volunteers of all ages – 12 – 97 performing 526 activities. Many are active in more than one activity; many have volunteered with us for ten years or more; 20 have paid jobs elsewhere; and 51 volunteer elsewhere. These volunteers, most of whom are seniors themselves, donate the equivalent number of hours of more than 20 full-time staff. Our volunteers are here and in the community every day. We would have to close our doors if we had to go without their thousands of hours of dedicated work.”

Ruthann continues to ask that all of our volunteers add one more important job to their volunteering – being an ambassador for the BSC. She asks that we all be aware of new faces here or in our community – churches, synagogues, neighborhoods or social networks - and welcome and encourage seniors to come to the BSC.  Our volunteers know that the secret to longevity is active involvement and physical fitness.

BROOKLINE SENIOR CENTER VOLUNTEERS IN THE NEWS: The Brookline Senior Center Alzheimer’s Walk Team photo and blurb were featured on the Your News page of the Brookline TAB on September 28. Ruthann was quoted in a recent article in the Commonwealth Magazine (http://CommonwealthMagazine.org/economy).  Brookline shared an article with the Chicopee COA in the October issue of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Medex quarterly publication, Healthy Times. Brookline Senior Center intergenerational volunteers were spotlighted on Wednesday, March 29 on BIG, the local TV channel. If you missed it, you can find the ½ hour program link on the BCAN website or on the BIG Facebook page https://youtu.be/iDDCgi8vKCk. Patricia also updates the volunteer pages of the Town and BSC websites and contributes to the BCAN Volunteer page monthly. She urges everyone to check these websites (www.brooklineseniorcenter.org/, www.brooklinema.gov/) and http://www.brooklinecan.org/. Brookline Senior Center volunteers were featured in an article in the April, 2016 issue of the fiftyplus advocate entitled Volunteering: A Work of Heart at the Brookline Senior Center. The article can be found on line at www.fiftyplusadvocate.com.


The 2017 Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Barbara Kean. Ruthann outlined some of the many ways that Barbara has volunteered – the reception desk, the Alzheimer’s Walk and currently assisting vision impaired guests, in particular the new VIBRANT program participants, and most importantly her position as BSC ambassador. Barbara exemplifies kindness and concern in a quiet way. In addition to the certificate of award, Barbara was also given a beautiful plant and a Brookline historical afghan.

Ruthann then announced the Community Partner Award that was given to Goddard House this year. She thanked them for their collaboration in BCAN activities, the past 3 Parties of the Century and Brookline 300 as well as their provision of transportation for our Alzheimer’s walk team and for other events.


SHINE: Open Enrollment for Medicare supplemental insurance is in full swing! SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Everyone) is administered by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs in partnership with Councils on Aging and other aging service access points. SHINE helps people on Medicare and other seniors understand complex insurance options. SHINE volunteer counselors educate and provide unbiased help to choose an insurance program best for the individual. Seniors interested in making an appointment with a BSC SHINE counselor at the BSC (All appointments during this year’s open enrollment are full.) should call 617 730 2777.

SHINE trains counselors in a 2 days/week - 6 week course. Meetings to get support and meet with other counselors occur monthly. Once certified, you will be assigned to work 6 hours per week in a senior center or other public setting. If you are interested in becoming a certified counselor, call Dorene Nemeth, MetroWest Regional SHINE Director: 781 455 7555, ext. 202.

MASS COMMISSION FOR THE BLIND: Help a visually impaired person by reading or shopping with them. No special skills needed. Call Kyle Robidoux, Director of Volunteer Support Services, Mass Commission for the Blind – 617 926 4312.

The Brookline Senior Center is collaborating with the MA Commission for the Blind (MCAB) on a new grant to train vision impaired seniors on new technological equipment that has been installed in the BSC computer lab. Jeremias Feliz will be taking over for Sassy (Sassy has been promoted to a new position at MCAB), as the new VIBRANT Program Trainer and will be available with other volunteers by appointment on Wednesdays from 1-5 and most Thursdays.

BROOKLINE’S EMERGENCY FOOD BANK: The Brookline Emergency Food Bank needs donations of instant coffee and tea, sugar, oil, flour, spices, pasta, canned tomatoes and sauce, canned soup, beans, vegetables, fruit (low salt and low sugar) dry beans, healthy snacks for kids, granola bars, and fruit cups. They also need toiletries such as: shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer and sunscreen (not covered by SNAP).

Donations may be left in the bin under the table in the reception area at the BSC.

CAPPELLA CLAUSURA: This Newton-based choral group focuses on performing and supporting the music of women composers. Concerts from November to May take place in Newton and Boston. Cappella Clausura would like to offer warm and welcoming Brookline Senior volunteers free admission to their concerts in exchange for helping to greet patrons, direct audience members to ticket lines, usher and hand out programs. Interested volunteers should contact Anne Kern @ manager@clausura.org or 617 993 0013.

GENERATIONS INCORPORATED: Generations Incorporated is recruiting older adult volunteers to help improve reading skills for kindergarten through 2nd grade students in classroom settings twice a week at either the Winship School in Brighton or the Lydon School in West Roxbury. To find out more about the program please call 617 423 6633 or email volunteerinfo@generations.org to RSVP.



Retirement Engagement Alternatives Program

The REAP program for Brookline senior residents 55 or 60 and above (depending on the program) is designed for people who wish to remain engaged and active in the community while in retirement or partial retirement. The goal of this program is to enhance the retirement experience by linking participants with either part-time paid or volunteer work in the community or at the Brookline Senior Center (BSC) itself.

The BSC partners with several other local organizations to offer fulfilling and interesting opportunities. These include, but are not limited to: BrooklineCAN (BCAN), Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), Brookline Adult and Community Education, Executive Office of Elder Affairs and Various Brookline Town departments. In addition, opportunities exist for Tax Work-Off, and limited grant funded employment at the BSC for income qualified Brookline residents.

The REAP program provides the following free services: individual, confidential and free consultation around skills and interests, on-going skills based workshops and training for employment seekers, employer-employee matching service, consultation and matching for participants seeking meaningful volunteer opportunities and on-going opportunities to network and explore avenues and options for self-fulfillment in the retirement years.

To enroll or for more information, call 617 730 2767 or email Deidre at dwaxman@brooklinema.gov

 Brookline seniors – Boomers & Beyond - are eligible to receive free individual help with resumes, cover letters and LinkedIn profiles as well as tips on phone, skype, in-person and mock interviews. To schedule an appointment, call Patricia at 617 730 2743 or email her at pburns@brooklinema.gov 



January 11 @ 1:00 PM


 Learn how to avoid being the 1 in 6 people who get foodborne illnesses in the USA every year. Learn how to protect yourself at home, in supermarkets and in restaurants. Learn about what different packaging dates mean and how long different foods last in your refrigerator or freezer.

 To register call 617-730-2770.



 JANUARY 25 @ 1:00 PM

 The Brookline Senior Center will be hosting an information session with Margie Gillian, Job Placement Specialist and Kevin Beaulieu, Rehabilitation Counselor at the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission. Learn how MRC can help seniors with disabilities enhance their quality of life and discover how they can assist you with your job skills and employment search. This program is free and open to all seniors in Brookline.

 For more information or to register please contact Deidre Waxman at 617 730 2767 or dwaxman@brooklinema.gov.