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State funds keep Peabody seniors on the go

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Grant allows Senior Center to purchase six new transportation vehicles

The Senior Center has six new transportation vehicles, thanks to a state grant. The city now has five new passenger vans and one new car. Last Thursday (July 6), Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito came to the Peter Torigian Senior Center (79 Central St.) to present the new transportation vehicles on behalf of the state.

The vehicles, which cost $240,000 in grant money, are a win for the city and the Senior Center, which lobbied hard to get them. The city now has one of the biggest fleets of any council on aging.

“[Carolyn Wynn, the director of the Council on Aging] fights for things like this all the time,” Carol McMahon, of the senior center, told The Advocate.

Mike Berry, director of Legislation and Community Affairs for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), told The Advocate that the city stood out for the “depth and breadth of their application.”

Wynn, in a conversation with The Advocate, thanked the many groups that came together to make the funding a reality. “It’s a wonderful partnership. Between working together we can provide so much more for the seniors and disabled population for Peabody,” Wynn said.

Lt. Governor Polito thanked Wynn and Mayor Ted Bettencourt and the City Council for their leadership. “It all starts with leadership.” Polito said. “With a strong mayor, city council, you’re putting Peabody in the best position possible to take advantage of these funds.”

The funds come from the competitive Community Transit Grant Program, which in its latest round of grants, doled out $10.2 million to a handful of Councils on Aging around the Commonwealth, totaling 148 new passenger vans for senior centers (including Peabody).

“Peabody stands out as a community that cares for seniors,” Polito later told The Advocate. She commended the city for its “strong portfolio of policies.”

Polito said that the vans would help Peabody’s seniors lead “a healthier, safer and more comfortable lifestyle” and “stay in the community.”

Wynn said that the Senior Center gives approximately 50,000 rides per year, from shopping to doctors’ appointments. They visit neighboring Danvers, Beverly and Lynn.

The new MV1 car will save on fuel. It also does not require a special license, like a van, to drive. It will help the one or two people who need a ride, instead of having to take a whole van.

Peter Torigian’s widow, Jackie Torigian, called the event “a little emotional” in a conversation with The Advocate. “I know how proud he would be to have it reach this level,” she said.

Peter Torigian was the longest serving mayor in Peabody’s history (1979-01) and invested significantly into the Senior Center that bears his name.

A hub of activity

The Senior Center has over 300 volunteers and offers a wide array of services and activities for Peabody’s elders. “There’s something for everyone,” McMahon said.

The mayor told the crowd that the Senior Center “continues to be a hub of activity for thousands of older residents.”

Thanks in large part to the Senior Center, AARP designates Peabody as an “age-friendly community.”

“This really is the envy of the North Shore,” the mayor said of the city.

By Melanie Higgins





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