March 19, 2018
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Topsham senior service center to close, relocate to Brunswick People Plus Center

By Rachel Shelly, The Times Record

BRUNSWICK, Maine — Within a month, Spectrum Generations will close its Southern Midcoast Community Center in Topsham and relocate all services to the People Plus Center on Union Street.

“This is a collaboration, not a merger,” Spectrum Generations President and CEO Gerard Queally said last week, a day after the People Plus Board of Trustees voted unanimously to share their space at 35 Union St.

Spectrum Generations’ board voted unanimously May 30 for the move.

Queally said the move eliminates redundancies in services to seniors, with Spectrum programs such as Homeward Bound, Medicare counseling and Meals on Wheels — now run from its facility at 12 Main St., Topsham — to be offered from the People Plus facility.

It’s a move that makes sense, Queally said, partly because of the automatic federal budget cuts known as sequestration.

“Sequestration hurt our programs,” he said. “Any Title Three Older Americans Act programs were cut by 5 percent, and will continue to be cut until either the sequester is repealed or in 2021, when it expires.”

Spectrum Generations’ Topsham center is part of the Central Maine Agency on Aging, a network of resource centers that receives federal funding to provide mandated services to seniors across Maine.

While sequestration has affected funding for senior services in the last several months, collaborating with People Plus is a conversation in which Queally has been engaged with People Plus Executive Director Stacy Frizzle for the last two years.

The two organizations shared the same address up until four years ago, when Spectrum moved to its Topsham location.

“This is a natural evolution,” Frizzle said. “It’s about more than just sharing space to save money. It’s about what’s the best way to serve the senior community. This provides ‘one-stop shopping’ for seniors.”

Queally and Frizzle said staff positions at the two agencies will not be affected.

Two Spectrum staff members making the transition are Craig Patterson, aging and disabilities resource counselor; and Shannon Hall, nutrition coordinator.

“It’s exciting,” Patterson said. “Change brings a certain amount of anxiety, but I’m going to continue providing the same services, probably to the same people.”

Hall, who runs the Meals on Wheels program, hopes that by moving, enough money will be saved to bring meal deliveries back to two days a week.

The service, which was affected by the sequester, was cut back to one delivery a week.

Even though Meals on Wheels has continued to provide five meals a week, “going to one delivery a week was really difficult for everyone, the volunteers, and especially the seniors,” Hall said.

After the move, seniors looking for information on veterans’ benefits, housing, at-home support, Meals on Wheels and Medicare can still find it through Spectrum Generations. Now they’ll also be able to play cribbage, learn to cook or attend any number of social activities at the same location.

“People Plus will continue to do what we do best, which is health and wellness,” Frizzle said. “And at the same time, having Spectrum here gives our over 1,000 members access to Spectrum’s services in a way that hasn’t been available for a long time.”

“People Plus is in a location that’s a little more visible. They have a good reputation for providing activities; we have a good reputation for providing services. Hopefully, [the move] will benefit everyone,” Patterson said.

People Plus is a 503(c)(3) nonprofit and receives no state or federal funding.

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