By Christopher Roberson
LYNNFIELD – After its official launch on Sept. 12, the ElderAct Club received its first call to duty when the Merrimack Valley gas explosions occurred the following day, which set 40 homes ablaze in North Andover, Lawrence and Andover.
Despite having “virtually no structure,” the club’s advisor, Ronald Block, said, the group still responded with a clothing drive to benefit the affected families. “We saw an opportunity and tried to do something to help,” he said.
Block said the idea to bring ElderAct to Lynnfield surfaced “three to four” years ago when he observed how successful it was in Swampscott and Marblehead.
“Everybody seemed to have a positive feel for it,” he said. “It gives people something to plan, something to do. You’re doing something worthwhile.”
Block, who is also president of the Lynnfield Rotary Club, said ElderAct is independent from Rotary. However, community service lies at the core of each group as was evidenced by ElderAct’s response to the gas explosions. “Both groups are dedicated to doing good service projects,” said Block.
Looking ahead to the New Year, Block said ElderAct is planning to introduce a lockbox program. He said the program will allow residents to put the keys to their homes in a lockbox that would be registered with the Lynnfield Fire Department. In the event of an emergency, firefighters would use a “town standard key” to open the lockbox and access the keys for that residence. Block said this will be particularly beneficial, as firefighters would otherwise have to break down the door to get inside.
“I don’t see a downside to doing it,” he said of the lockbox program, adding that Swampscott and Marblehead have 70 registered lockboxes.
Block said there is no charge to be an ElderAct member and that the club is open to anyone who is 60 and older and actively participates in programs at the Lynnfield Senior Center. The club meets at the Senior Center on the first and third Tuesday of every month at 12:15 p.m.