Human Services Director talks about town's future needs
By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Glastonbury - posted Fri., Apr. 8, 2011
As the first in a series of lunchtime lectures called “G'bury Gems,” – each of which will feature a different local official, speaking about their purview, as well as about the future of Glastonbury - Human Services Director Patricia Schneider spoke to seniors and other local residents at the Riverfront Community Center on April 5.
Schneider explained how she oversees the Senior Center, Youth and Family Services, the town's Social Services and its Substance Abuse Prevention divisions. She oversees about 40 full- and part-time employees, plus numerous contractual workers and more than 350 volunteers. Programs run from youth theatre, to outreach social work, to the town's seniors.
Schneider said that when she first started working in Glastonbury in 1993, the Senior Center had 4,000 units of service (or gross number of people utilizing programs) per year. That number is now 44,000.
She also manages a fleet of vehicles, including the town's Dial-a-ride vans.
For the future, Schneider said one thing her department is doing is using more green energy, including four of the vehicles in the fleet, and a natural gas fill station is planned for the parking lot at the Riverfront Community Center. The plan is also that the filling station eventually will belong to a network of stations that service the public.
For the Riverfront Community Center, Schneider said she hopes to one day see the building expand.
“When we built this building,” she said, “it was built so that an addition could be put on it. Lots of things have been tossed up about that – an aquatic center or a gym. I'd love to see them put an indoor walking track in there.”
A shorter term goal is to expand the parking lot at the RCC – something that is in the works, in conjunction with the next phase of the Riverfront Park's expansion.
With the town population steadily increasing, Schneider said the needs her department will try to meet will also grow.
“As our community becomes more diverse, there will be more needs,” she said. “One thing I see happening in town is the growth of multi-generational households, which is an issue.”
Besides a lack of affordable housing, a lack of rental property in town could be another cause for concern.
“For people who are trying to, or need to, get out of owning a home, there is not a big pool of rental property for people who still want to stay in the community,” she said.
The ever-growing percentage of over-60 residents will also present challenges, such as more-walkable communities, transportation and senior programming.
“Programming for seniors is like programming for three different generations at the same time,” she said. “People have different programming needs, so it becomes a challenge, then you put on top of that the cultural diversity and other issues.”
Senior Center Director Maryleah Skoronski said she chose to start the series because, “a knowledgable resident makes for a good resident.”
Wednesday, Director of Parks and Recreation Ray Purtell spoke to the seniors, followed by Police Chief Thomas Sweeney on Thursday.
On April 13, curator of the Glastonbury Historical Society Lin Scarduzio will be the guest, followed by State Rep. Prasad Srinivasan on April 18 and Director of Community Development Kenith Leslie on April 21.
The finale of the series will be on April 27, when Town Manager Richard Johnson will lead a town-wide presentation entitled, “Preparing Glastonbury for the Next Decade.” The program is open to all Glastonbury residents.
For more information, contact Senior Center Director Maryleah Skoronski at 860-652-7638, or visit www.glasct.org.