REPORT ON WARD 4 NORTHAMPTON NEIGHBORS MEETING
MAY 24, 2017
The meeting was held in Forbes Library’s Community Room and was chaired by Marcia Holden. Fourteen people attended, including Ward 4 City Councilor Gina-Louise Sciarra. After introductions, Marcia and Board Member Sara Lennox explained where NN was at in its process of organization and talked about the Senior Center’s generous offer to allow NN to organize under its “umbrella” for the first several years so that membership at least initially will be free. Marcia and Sara encouraged people to join and contribute now (funds to be used for CORI checks for volunteers, insurance, and other necessary expenses). Several people said they would be willing to volunteer to answer NN’s phone one morning a week before we have a paid part-time administrator.
One question raised was what NN’s age requirement is. Sara explained the NN Board hasn’t yet made a final decision and that different villages have answered that question in different ways.
Attendees then moved around the room writing down their answers to the questions below, posted on tear-off sheets on the walls:
In what ways can Northampton Neighbors serve people at different stages of life?
Older and oldest: errands, someone to come and read to those who need readers, driving to appointments or whatever, shopping for groceries, making or bringing a meal, someone to call for an emergency (like a fall), affordable lawn and snow high school kids
Medium, younger: baby sitting, some to offer a bedroom at times like Christmas when too many family members visit, someone to drive people who live alone to car shop and pickup when cars need servicing
Transportation if unable for shopping, medical visits
Help with computers, electronics, etc.
Socializing and relief breaks for grandparents raising grandchildren
Lifting heavy things and groceries--Sasha
Compassionate listening when I am overwrought with family illness problems—Sasha
Linking up those with struggles with same disabilities and need advice and support—Sasha
Storm buddies—check on needs, companionship
Meeting others in neighborhood
Snowstorm—someone to move car off street to designated parking and help dig it out
How do we identify people in need of services now?
Talk to friends about this venture! (Sasha)
Survey of neighborhood needs on listserve or newspaper, Conz Street Chronicle
Door to door survey?
Get Gazette to do a story on NN
Flyers in doctors’ offices and speaking to the doctors so they can mention NN to patients
Interview on Occupy the Airwaves
Program on local TV with Board members
Existing members just telling people of NN’s existence (people’s eyes light up when I mention NN)
Insert in Senior Center paper (Sasha)
Recommendations for competent and dependable people we know (Sasha)
Set up tables with info outside libraries, supermarkets, neighborhood picnics
Beyond volunteer services, what do we want Northampton Neighbors to be?
Interest groups? Which ones? Could you help to organize?
Groups that LOVE films but do not want to go alone
Caregiver lists for those who need reprieve
Writing (I can compose for any occasion)—Sasha
Crafts—I can help with getting started or learning crafts—Sasha
Social groups? What kinds? Could you help to organize?
A “tea party” focused on social justice—Anne Moore
Socialize in a group with grandchildren too
Monthly social/cultural group to see performances locally, Amherst Cinema, Tanglewood, Smith, art openings
Dinner get-together (casual, not fancy, maybe even bring your own)
Transportation to movies
Recommended service providers?
Plumbers: Greg Mungeon—small jobs
Electricians: Jim Elkins
Handyman: Hadley Senior Center uses Handyman Hank (Georgianna Rouleau)
Northampton Senior Center now has a handyman (Georgianna Rouleau)
Roofer: Mitch Hawkins
Landscaping/Yardwork: Ryan Bredin
Painter: Jesse Casinghino, 413-687-7996 (Gina-Louise Sciarra)
Snow removal: Accent Builders Skrocki ((Georgianna Rouleau)
Others: Job X (https://smith.studentemployment.ngwebsolutions.com/Cmx_Content.aspx?cpId=18): Smith students are receiving requests on this website with self-described specifics of what you need (often $10/hr)—anything from gardening to computers (Anne Moore)
The meeting concluded with a discussion of next steps. Attendees were enthusiastic about the possibility of creating a Northampton Neighbors listserve (though they realized it would overlap in some ways with the South Street neighborhood listserve). The Liebmans, who had belonged to a village in the DC area before moving to Northampton, encouraged us to host mix-and mingles so that people could get to know each other. Attendees felt that establishing relationships both by neighborhood and city-wide was important. Some, though not all, attendees were interested in both services and social/cultural events. Several attendees proposed that older Ward 4 residents potentially in need of services could be identified by birthdate on the city street listing and that members out for walks could leave brochures in those people’s doors, possibly with a note including their name, address, and phone number with encouragement to call for further information.