By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Region – Guests had the opportunity to meet state officials while attending the 33rd annual Senior Conference, held April 18 at Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School (AVRTHS) in Marlborough. For the fifth year, the conference was hosted by state Sen. Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton, for constituents from 14 communities in the Middlesex and Worcester District, including Hudson, Marlborough, Northborough (precinct 3), Southborough and Westborough.
Ten workshops geared toward an active and healthy lifestyle were offered throughout the morning. Also available were health screenings, and tai chi and yoga classes.
Leading a workshop on scams were Amane Abdeljaber and Katrina Harrington, mediators at the office of Attorney General Martha Coakley. They relayed the frequent concerns they hear involving autodialed phone solicitation.
“If you don's recognize the number, don's pick up the phone,” Abdeljaber advised. “They'se calling everybody. They call us, not knowing it's the attorney general's office. Let it go to your voicemail.”
Warning guests of the “grandparent scheme,” Harrington reenacted a phone call.
“”Hi Grandma, I went on vacation with friends and now I's in a really bad situation,”” she said. “”Can you send me $5,000 via Western Union?” Unfortunately, once that money is transferred, there's often nothing that can be done.”
Following a luncheon prepared by the AVRTHS culinary arts department, guests assembled in the auditorium where Eldridge spoke and introduced other state officials.
“The Senate budget will be coming out in a few weeks,” Eldridge said. “Programs like the Equal Choice Law, Prescription Advantage, councils on aging, the SHINE Program, and many other programs that serve seniors across the state, including this region, are all budget priorities with the entire legislative delegation. Please be in touch with us as that process goes from now until probably the end of June.”
Secretary of Elder Affairs Ann Hartstein presented an overview of the state budget process.
“The good news about the long process is that there's a lot of opportunity for each and every one of you to let your state representatives and senators know what's important to you,” Hartstein said. “They don's know what you think unless you tell them.”
State Rep. Kate Hogan, D-Stow, good-naturedly corrected Hartstein.
“I want to correct one thing that the secretary mentioned about the budget,” Hogan noted. “She said that it originates with the governor, comes to the House, then goes to the Senate – and it's a long process. I want to edit that for you. It starts in the House and then people fuss with it. I's from the House; just call me.”
State Rep. Danielle Gregoire, D-Marlborough, also encouraged communication with constituents.
“We want to take care of you because you take care of us,” Gregoire said. “Someday we'se all going to be older, and we'se all going to need the services that we'se trying to provide for you folks. We need to hear from you to find out what our priorities should be.”
Marlborough Mayor Arthur Vigeant spoke about “a real buzz around the city” regarding plans to build a new senior center.
“We have some stiff competition when it comes to senior centers because we went around and visited some of them out there,” he said. “Because of the bar that was set by some of these communities, ours is going to be second to none. We'se really excited about giving our seniors a worthy place where they can go and enjoy themselves.”
The conference concluded with entertainment by the Senior Strutters with a Twist, a local song-and-dance troupe of performers ages 55 to 88. Several door prizes were presented including a lift chair donated by Bouvier Pharmacy in Marlborough.