Gabrielle Lord, Contributing Photographer

The New Haven Health and Human Services Committee met this past Thursday night at the Board of Alders Chamber to deliberate and act on funding provided by the state of Connecticut for New Haven’s senior centers.

After hearing from Tomi Veale, director of the Elderly Services Department, the seven alders serving on the committee unanimously accepted $235,000 for the centers in the fiscal 2024-2026 fiscal years. Furthermore, the committee approved a $100,000 grant from the state for transportation to and from the Dixwell/Newhallville Senior Center.

“I think it’s great that we’re getting this funding, and I appreciate the work that the Department of Elderly Services is doing to make sure our seniors have lots of opportunities to get out and about and build community and have fun,” said committee chair Eli Sabin ’22 LAW ’26.

First and foremost, the increased funding will in large part go toward extending the current hours of operation for the centers.

Currently, they are open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. With the additional financial resources, Veale told the News that she is looking to extend the hours to 6:30 p.m., with a priority on closing later during the summer months.

“Our department’s mission is to engage seniors ages 55 and above, and currently with the way our program model is designed, 55- to 65-year-old seniors could potentially still be working during those hours and they may not be able to enjoy the services that we offer,” Veale said.  “So, we want to be able to try and meet their needs too, by extending the hours so that they too can take advantage of the programs that are afforded to them.”

In addition, with the new resources from the state, Veale is looking to enhance certain aspects of the centers to improve attendee experiences. She highlighted that the current computer labs are too small to meet demand. Veale said that she would therefore prioritize the creation of mobile computer labs where seniors could use the technology while congregating in larger spaces.

With mobile computer labs, computer technology instructors could also cater to more students at the same time. Veale is also looking to restore the cooking classes that have been conducted in the past and have been very popular.

Finally, the acquired funds will go toward facilitating additional field trips for which the senior centers already sponsor and provide transportation. Currently, the two most popular trips are to the Big E exposition park in Springfield, Massachusetts, and Holliday Hill in Prospect, Connecticut.

Ward One Alder and Yale junior Kiana Flores ’25 voiced her appreciation for the new funds to the News.   

“I’m glad to hear that the money is getting acquired, and we were able to facilitate one part of that process, so we’re excited to see the expansion of these programs,” Flores said. “I think this range of programs is exciting, especially coming back from COVID. The cooking sounds really cool, as well as the many different field trips.”

The second grant that was passed — the allotment for the Dixwell/Newhallville Senior Center — will go largely toward transportation costs for trips throughout the year. Veale informed the committee that Dixwell is one of the most vibrant sites and that during her tenure, she has seen the most interest in these trips from Dixwell seniors. 

The Dixwell/Newhallville Senior Center is located at 197 Dixwell Ave.

Tommy Gannon covers men's ice hockey. He is a first-year in Branford college majoring in history and economics.