Our Christmas Giving Program is at the heart of what we do for seniors. It is thirty one years strong. The Big Wrap is the day that volunteers and members meet at the Dennis Senior Center, with their own scissors and giving spirit, to wrap over 2,470 presents in a matter of a few hours. Each present is thoughtfully chosen and paid for by the Friends over the course of the year. We give 19 individually-wrapped gifts to 130 Dennis seniors who live alone or are in need. On the Saturday following The Big Wrap, board directors along with Volunteers in Police Service (Dennis Police Department) load up their cars and hand deliver the Christmas bags to seniors—many of whom are waiting at the door for just a visitor. Each bag is decorated by a child, be it a girl scout or student at the Dennis Union Church. If you would like to become part of this Giving Program in December 2017, please call our office at (508) 385-5376. The Big Wrap is scheduled for Tuesday, December 5th (1:45 pm in Howell Hall).
In 2012, the Friends published our first quarterly newsletter called The Friends of Dennis Senior Citizens. Although we had co-founded the popular Cranberry Scoop in 1980 along with the Dennis Council on Aging, we remain a private charity, giving funds to the COA, but not becoming an organization run by the Town of Dennis.
It was now time for us to get the news out in a different way—we have been here for the seniors of Dennis as private citizens for almost forty years. We help individual seniors in ways that public entities are not always able—we can write a check quickly if the financial need is there. But our message is not just about need—we are here to promote a quality of life for seniors living in our midst.
The Friends’ newsletter now reaches beyond Dennis and the surrounding Cape towns, with friends as far away as California and Virginia, joining us as members. The Big Wrap, Golf Tournament and Jazz in June are “big tent” events that welcome everyone, not just Dennis residents. So this newsletter is our voice, speaking directly to seniors, the friends of seniors, the children and neighbors of seniors, with articles on history, safety concerns, current events, trips, tax and financial issues, a veterans’ column and even a section on gardening. Click here to find out how to receive our newsletter.
In memory of one of our early Board Directors, George DeShaw, we hold a golf tournament every year in June at the Dennis Highlands. This is our major fundraiser for the year, but as George, who began it over twenty-five years ago would like to say, “it is an event for friends, families and neighbors to gather, play a good game, enjoy a hearty lunch and give to a favorite charity.” The tournament will be held on Monday, June 12th, 8:00 am shotgun. To play in the tournament or become a valued Tournament, Tee or Gift sponsor click here.
The Friends decided to create a celebration of early summer in Dennis—a joyous event in a place where seniors could invite their friends and families to a big party. So in 2013, we held our first Jazz in June, filling the largest room at the Dennis Senior Center to full capacity. With flowers picked from our gardens, Japanese lanterns and white lights, someone thought we were preparing for a wedding party! The room is known as Howell Hall, named after our first Board President, Oren G. Howell. The Bob Hayes Band and Cerise continue to dazzle the crowd of 90 people and we serve a summer luncheon with fresh bread transported all the way from Wellfleet on Saturday morning from the PB Boulangerie. There is a raffle of prizes and gifts. This year’s event is on Saturday, June 3rd from 12-2:00 pm. To join us this year, please call our office at (508) 385-5376 since table seating gets booked early.
To give the gift of blood is precious, and as such, the Friends of Dennis Senior Citizens hold blood drives in October and March each year, sponsored through the American Red Cross. Our next blood drive will be held on October 21, 2017 from 9:00 am-2:00 pm in Howell Hall at the Dennis Senior Center. The blood drives are also announced in our quarterly newsletter. To learn how to receive our newsletters click here.
Educating seniors on matters of safety and well-being has long been a goal of the Friends. We have written and talked to seniors in Dennis about the importance of having a File-of-Life envelope which we purchase and can be picked up free of charge at our office. This 4×5 paper file is inserted into a red envelope, magnetized and easily placed on a refrigerator door. The trifold card allows seniors to write their medications, allergies, doctors’ names, emergency contacts and any existing health issues or special instructions. Written information of this kind is vital to emergency personnel or first responders if someone is injured or unconscious. The File-of-Life packet can also be taken by a first responder or caregiver to the hospital, providing instant access to medical conditions.
We encourage all seniors interested in the Lock Box to call the Dennis Fire Department at 508-398-0363, extension 36. The Friends do not provide the Lock Box. Simply put, a Lock Box can prevent a forced entry into your home if the door is locked and first responders cannot get in. It saves time, expense and damage. The steel box is attached to your home (near the entrance) and holds a key to your front door. In Dennis, only the Town of Dennis Fire Department and ambulance personnel have the special key which opens a Lock Box.
The Friends can help pay for Philips Lifeline bracelets and necklaces for those Dennis seniors who are in need of financial assistance through Cape Cod Lifeline. A lifeline bracelet or necklace has a help button that is easy to press, providing peace of mind to the senior who wears it as well as family and friends who may not be close at hand if a fall or injury occurs.
The Friends continue to pay for tracking bracelets worn by those Dennis seniors who wander as a result of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia if there is a financial need. These bracelets can save the lives of seniors who often wander toward water, fall or are disoriented far from home. In addition, caregivers are given a safety net knowing that “proven technology” can lead to finding a loved one.
A long winter can be hard on seniors who are house bound so we found a way to bring a glow to early March by giving 400 daffodils to Meals on Wheels clients through Elder Services. On March 14, 2017, daffodils not only went out with the meals, but brightened tables in the dining room of the Dennis Senior Center and in the Golden Age room.
When the Outreach Coordinator from the Dennis Council on Aging approached the Friends about supporting this Food Bank program, many of our Board members became its first volunteers, distributing the much- welcomed bags of food to Dennis seniors. We have also made a monetary donation for additional food.
The Brown Bag Program distributes these bags to Dennis seniors at the Dennis Senior Center the first Friday of every month.
Believing that fellowship, engagement and learning is important to senior living, the Friends can pay for seniors in Dennis who wish to join these classes at the Dennis Senior Center but cannot afford the tuition. Golden Age classes involve music, exercise, current events and the joy of staying independent while making new friends.
Every year, The Friends give the Dennis Council on Aging money from an annual fund (given to us by an individual donor) for the sole purpose of computer education for seniors.
The Friends discovered a little known MA law which exempts all Massachusetts’ seniors from paying for 411 directory assistance calls. We have forms in our office that are free from the two telephone carriers on the Cape—Verizon and Comcast. They are simple to fill out and we will instruct you.
Our founders believed we “are our brother’s keeper,” and we continue to help vulnerable seniors in Dennis with financial assistance. We often pay a dental bill, car repair, home or some other emergency need. Referral and eligibility for this assistance is often determined by social service outreach personnel. Click here if you wish to make a donation.
Although we continue to give the Dennis Council on Aging an annual grant, File-of-Life packets and pay monthly bills for Golden Age attendees, from time to time, we also give money for building repairs or special requests such as carpeting for the Ickis room, new blinds for Howell Hall and a seating bench for seniors near the entrance to the Dennis Senior Center.
Our trip table at the Dennis Senior Center is known far and wide on the Cape, with many seniors stopping in just to get a new flyer on a trip. We offer these trips through licensed and insured tour operators and encourage you to click here for a complete listing of current destination spots.
As part of our mission to give to like-minded organizations, the Friends of Dennis Senior Citizens gives annual grants to Hope Dementia & Alzheimer’s Services of Cape Cod, Hope Health Hospice & Palliative Care, Sight Loss of Cape Cod, Visiting Nurse Association, Compass Adult Day Health Center, the Dennis Council on Aging and Elder Services of Cape Cod & the Islands. Click here to make a donation.