Senior Center director readies for new role in Amherst

  • Incoming director Hayley Bolton previously worked at the Amherst Survival Center and Craig’s Doors. CONTRIBUTED

  • Senior Center Director Hayley Bolton and Anne Lyman at the pop-up food pantry at the Bernardston Senior Center in April. Bolton’s last day as director in Bernardston is Dec. 30. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Monday, January 03, 2022

BERNARDSTON — Hayley Bolton’s last day on the job as Bernardston’s Senior Center director is Dec. 30 as she prepares to take over as senior services director in Amherst.

“It’s a nice step up for me professionally, a very good opportunity, but unfortunately it does mean I have to leave my seniors behind,” said Bolton, who became Senior Center director in June 2019.

Having worked in Amherst previously, first at the Amherst Survival Center and then at the Craig’s Doors shelter, Bolton is familiar with the community and will work with a larger staff there. Looking toward her new role, the 30-year-old South Deerfield resident described herself as a “very ambitious and career-forward” person.

“In talking to the town during the hiring process, we want to increase the voices of the diverse population that’s present in Amherst, making sure everyone’s voices are heard,” she said of her goals in her new position.

During her time as Bernardston Senior Center director, much of which was during the COVID-19 pandemic, Bolton said “being adaptive and creative” was necessary, as health safety precautions and the needs of area seniors continued to evolve. In April 2020, Bolton launched one of her favorite programs, a monthly “pop-up” food pantry that has distributed food to about 200 seniors each month in a to-go format.

“We really cared,” Bolton said of the Senior Center’s efforts to maintain operations during the pandemic. “We stepped up and made sure that they wanted for nothing.”

Bolton said she has appreciated Bernardston’s togetherness, noting how Highway Department workers recently came to help move furniture.

“It’s great to be in a small town and know that other people will have your back,” she said. “The same goes for police, fire, the Select Board.”

Bolton also expressed her appreciation for how Bernardston “took a chance on having a young director.”

“As much as I’ve tried to give,” she said, “I’ve gotten more back in return.”

Town Coordinator Louis Bordeaux said the Select Board will meet with the Council on Aging’s board of directors on Tuesday at 5 p.m. to discuss finding a replacement for Bolton and ensuring continued service at the Senior Center, which has seven other staff members.

“Hayley’s done an awesome job and she’s leaving big shoes to fill,” Bordeaux said. “She set the bar high for whoever comes after her.”