South County Senior Center leasing office space in Sunderland

  • South County Senior Center Director Jennifer Remillard, pictured in administrative office space the center is leasing at 22 Amherst Road in Sunderland. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Seniors play pitch at the South County Senior Center’s new space at 22 Amherst Road in Sunderland. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The South County Senior Center is leasing this building at 22 Amherst Road in Sunderland. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Monday, October 24, 2022

SUNDERLAND — With its old building in South Deerfield reduced to one floor of operations, the South County Senior Center has leased administrative office space and operations space in Sunderland.

The Senior Center has signed a lease at the former Tea Trekker storefront, 22 Amherst Road, and has moved its administrative staff to the building. The old Senior Center building — now referred to as the 1888 building by Deerfield officials — has been reduced to one floor of operations due to the presence of asbestos and mold on the second floor and in the basement.

With an already tight office space, a COVID-19 testing center operated by Curative was also added to the building in the early spring. Senior Center Director Jennifer Remillard said the new space in Sunderland will help the office staff of four people work more efficiently.

“We’re able to be organized and it’s conducive to what we need to run the Senior Center effectively,” Remillard said. “We’re trying to be more accessible to the community.”

The Senior Center has signed a one-year lease for the space and pays $1,800 a month from its operations budget, which is funded by the towns of Deerfield, Sunderland and Whately.

In the new space, the Senior Center will offer additional hours for community members to socialize and participate in programs, including a movie center, lending library and a food pantry for those in need. These new offerings will begin in November. Hours will be posted in the Senior Center’s monthly newsletter.

“There’s more opportunities to offer events on a regular basis,” Remillard said, adding that new offices can also be a place where people can “pop in and spend some quality time with their peers and friends.”

“A lot of seniors are just looking for a place they can be social,” she said. “I think that’s what is lacking.”

With the new space in a different town, Remillard said she is hopeful more people who might not have the means or the motivation to travel to Deerfield will stop by.

The Senior Center’s main programs will continue to be offered on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at the Holy Family Roman Catholic Church, 29 Sugarloaf St. in South Deerfield.

“It’s a great space,” she said of the Sunderland location. “It offers additional programming at later hours and it gives us the opportunity to meet with seniors regularly, who cannot make it to the limited hours at the parish.”

The new administrative offices will join the Holy Family Roman Catholic Church as another temporary location for the South County Senior Center as town officials from Deerfield, Sunderland and Whately mull over different possibilities. The most fleshed out idea floated in the past has come from Deerfield, which has laid out a vision of renovating the 1888 building into a combination Town Hall/Community Center. If that plan were pursued, the town has also started the process of setting money aside for repairs to the South Deerfield Congregational Church, which would serve as a temporary home for the Senior Center while renovations are made. Two open houses will be held for the new space. They will take place on Monday, Oct. 24, and Friday, Oct. 28, from 2 to 4 p.m. Light refreshments will be served.

“It’s a great opportunity for people to see what we’re doing,” Remillard said..