Enthusiasm and energy are hallmarks of Darlene Regan as she delves into her new position of Director of the Halifax Council on Aging. Her most immediate project is finding safe ways to restart community programs that were unable to meet during the pandemic. Other projects emphasize educating seniors and community members about the resources that would help them in different situations and then facilitating their links to them.
“We are a connection to a core of care,” Regan says. “We want to have fun, but we are going to be educational too.” Her staff gets high marks from Regan who entered this office just a month ago. During the pandemic’s severe limitations which ended recently, they were able to run programs such as Meals on Wheels, Grab and Go Lunches, and a plethora of health and outreach information sources. Sometimes they add little decorative touches such as placing locally picked flowers in bud vases on each table in the dining room.
The Halifax COA headquarters in the historic Pope Tavern does pose a challenge to restarting programs. Rooms are small and several are on the second floor, accessed only by a steep staircase. Thus, Regan praises the places in town like the library and Heinrich Hall that allow some COA programs to meet in their large rooms as she seeks additional places to provide more programs. Meanwhile, The Joy of Writing, chair yoga, and men’s coffee group meet now and plans include soon starting a women’s coffee group, art classes, and various needlework groups.
Few people realize how many resources are available or know how to access them. Likewise, few know how local, regional, state and federal entities cooperate and coordinate to provide these services and information. Hopes of running a fair in the fall to bring this information easily to the whole community place high on the list of coming events.
Regan also praises volunteers who make many programs possible. “I love this community,” she says. “It’s vibrant. I’ve never seen so many volunteers.” They are a vital force as COA’s, like other town, county, state and federal entities share limited funds. Also vital is the Board of Directors and she feels that they have a good mix of people representing various aspects of the community on that board.
Over twenty years Regan transitioned from private business. For ten years she worked as a SHINE counselor through Old Colony Elder Services. Adding to her original degree from Assumption College, she earned a Gerontology Graduate Certificate from the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at UMASS/Boston.
“I built my network being approachable,” says Regan. “Please come visit.”