Wellesley’s Tolles Parsons Center at long last to offer nighttime programs for seniors

When Wellesley’s Advisory Committee recently moved a much anticipated meeting from a room at the Police station to a larger one at the Tolles Parsons Center across Washington Street, it was a rare nighttime sight at the Council on Aging’s home: Lights on, parking lot full, and a bunch of people.

The Tolles Parsons Center, which took years to get off the ground and millions to build, normally operates on a schedule of 9am-4pm only on weekdays. It’s a busy place during those hours, but many seniors who work days rarely get a chance to see it open, other than say on Election Day, when the facility serves as a voting site into the evening.

Some wonder why it’s not regularly available to them at night or on weekends.

Money and staff of course are the challenges, though thanks to a fresh infusion from the Community Fund for Wellesley the COA next month will begin extended hours on Wednesdays until 7pm. This pilot program will go into September.

A highlight of the extended hours will be a series of free 5:30pm programs, kicking off with a concert by the Wolverine Jazz Band on April 3. Other upcoming events include singer Grace Etzkorn (April 10), Guitarist Patrick Hayden (April 17), and Bob DiCicco’s “Love Letters from the Front” (April 24). While the programs will run at night, daylight saving time should allow the 60+ crowd to attend and get home before dark. People can review and sign up for programs online or by calling the Council on Aging at 781-235-3961.

Not only will such programs be offered on Wednesday nights, but Tolles Parsons members will also be able to enjoy amenities such as the library, pool room, and exercise equipment.

“This will be a pilot to see if the community reacts to the extended hours,” says Kevin McDonald, the COA’s senior activities coordinator.

Among those looking forward to the pilot is Tom Kealy, a member of the Friends of the Wellesley Council on Aging who says he has been pushing for the Center to be open at night since its opening in 2017. “We have failed to attain the funding needed from the Town on the basis that we needed to prove that Seniors would attend, but without the funds it’s a Catch-22.  Fortunately, [COA Director] Deb Greenwood secured a grant from the generous folks at the Community Fund for Wellesley. With the money, we can prove the Seniors’ interest. I am very excited about this opportunity.”

Early indications are that this will be a success, Kealy says, based on sign-ups for the April events.

“This is only the tip of the iceberg. My long-term goal is to attract working Seniors (half of our Senior population) to be able to use the TPC any night of the week and have the Center open on weekends,” says Kealy, a 50-year-Wellesley resident who is a retired chief financial officer.

He’s also a 5-days-a-week Tolles Parsons Center user, and has been involved with the center since its development stage. Expect to see him there at night now, too.

Tolles Parsons Center COA

More: See the COA newsletter for upcoming programs and activities

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