[Updated to include the names of all the Advisory Board members; January 19]
By: Maria Moore
As a new member of the Senior Center, our reporter is really looking forward to being able to take advantage of some of the wonderful offerings of the center ~ a 15-minute massage for $10 comes to mind ~ but most of all, she’s really looking forward to getting to know Jean Barnicoat, one of the most upbeat people you’re likely to meet. Â Our reporter stopped by to interview Jean this past week and the result of that visit is this ‘Getting To Know You’ piece.
Who is Jean Barnicoat?
Jean grew up on Cape Cod and after high school she worked at many different jobs. Â ”I did a lot of stuff in my life. Â I worked in silk screening, had a drapery making business, worked in libraries.” Â A veritable Jean of all Trades! Â Now in her later 50s, Jean says: “I was a late bloomer,” as she describes starting college in 1995 and receiving her Associates Degree with Honors from the Cape Cod Community College. Â She transferred to the University of Southern Maine to continue working on a Bachelors but that summer she met her husband, Alan from Connecticut who was vacationing on the Cape. Â ”We met through a Personal ad. and we hit it off right away!” Â Jean said. Â After one semester in school in Maine, she transferred to Central Connecticut State University and graduated in 2000 with a Bachelors in Social Work. Â She then attended the UConn School of Social Work and received her Masters in Social Work in 2002.
At the end of one of her courses at UConn, Jean said one of her professors asked her class: ” Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” “I answered “I want to be the Director of a Senior Center.” Â And five years almost to the day, I got this job!” Â That was in 2007 right after Labor Day. Â Asked if she was enjoying her work, Jean answered: “I love my job! Â If they want to get me out of here, they’d have to drag me out, kicking and screaming!” Â Not that one could ever conceive of such a thing. Â With her kind heart and welcoming manner, Jean is never too busy for anyone, including the small group of seniors who had come to the Senior Center on the morning of this interview and had asked Jean to play Wii Bowling with them which, of course, she did!
The Senior Center
The Senior Center was started 35 years ago as a Senior Club. Â As the number of activities increased, the seniors found that they were spending more and more of their time organizing the activities rather than just participating in them, so with then-First Selectman Bill Baxter’s blessing, the seniors decided to hire a director. Â They applied for, and received, a grant from the Western CT Area Agency on Aging, and the Senior Center Director’s position was added to the town budget. Â Jean, who is a part-time employee, is the first Director hired by the center.
The Senior Center doesn’t charge a membership fee and all residents aged 55 and over are eligible to join. Â Jean said that she loves to get different people involved in the Senior Center. Â She has expanded the activities at the center to include, among other things, Cribbage ‘n Cards, Wii Bowling, thanks to a grant from Community Connections, and Yoga twice per week. Â The center also recently received an electric piano from Community Connections and Alan, Jean’s husband, has come in several times to play the piano for senior events.
The Senior Center has a cookbook in its future. Â A Cookbook Committee has been set up and they will be holding their first meeting soon. Â If you have a recipe you’d like to contribute to the cookbook, please let Jean know.
The seniors have also formed a volunteer Advisory Board which is known as ‘The Friends of the New Hartford Senior Center.’ Â Members of the Advisory Board are (in alphabetical order): Elaine Carmelich, Penny Church, Jean Lefave, Dianne Litchfield, Skip and Frank Misiorski, Andy Reiss and Betty Roberge. Â Watch for more news from this board.
For more information: On the Senior Center or to join the center, please contact Jean by email:Â firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone: 860-379-3980 between 8:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays.
Jean also puts together one of the most readable newsletters around! Ask her and she will gladly place you on her email, or snail mail list as you prefer.