BURRILLVILLE – More than 350 Burrillville residents over age 55 attended a successful Lunch & Learn event on Wednesday, Sept. 15, at a gathering at Wright’s Farm Restaurant that also honored two local veterans.
The event was the first since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to be put on by Burrillville Aging Stronger, a group that aims to improve quality of life for the town’s older population.
In addition to a free lunch, attendees receive information on available resources for seniors, and get the chance to interact with vendors offering various services at the events, put on throughout the year.
Groups that participated this week included the town itself, along with the Office of Healthy Aging; the Burrillville Prevention Action Coalition offering a prescription take back; Overlook Nursing Home; the Assembly Theatre; the Burrillville Lions Club; an adaptive telephone equipment loan program; RI Relay; Ocean State Center for Independent Living and Healthier Fit Lifestyle.
Guests were given high-quality reusable tote bags to hold the accompanying schwag – primarily informational items aimed at improving the lives of town seniors. Those who return with the bags – labeled Burrillville Aging Stronger – to the next Lunch & Learn will receive a raffle ticket.
Two Burrillville World War veterans were also honored for their service at the luncheon and received a standing ovation: George Barber and Raymond Fontenault.
A collaboration between various individuals and organizations in Burrillville that hope to enhance the lives of the town’s older population, Aging Stronger puts on the luncheons that give seniors a chance to socialize while learning about local resources. The group, which is funded through grants focused on health and wellness, municipal funds and vendor donations, has held several well-attended Lunch & Learn events since its launch in 2018.
“The event was a huge success,” said Burrillvillle Recreation Director and Trash & Recycling Coordinator Andrea Hall, who is also one of the key organizers with the ongoing outreach effort. “It was a lot of fun for me because I had a chance to finally meet residents whom I have only spoken with over the phone throughout the pandemic. It was such a great feeling to put a face with the voices I’ve gotten to know over the last year and a half.”
The free lunch, of course, is always a big draw, and restaurant staff delivered heaping plates of family-style chicken.
“Roger and his staff were amazing,” Hall said of the Wright’s manager Roger Lapierre. “Participants enjoyed dinner, had a chance to win many raffle prizes, catch up with one another and visit with vendors.”
The town also offers transportation to the events, and this time, 16 residents took advantage of the option, riding in the town bus or with chauffeur for the day Town Councilor Justin Batalon, who drove his own vehicle.
“Justin had been volunteering with senior services since the beginning of the pandemic and has been a lifesaver,” said Hall.
Hall said the organization hopes to hold the next Lunch & Learn in the spring.