Friday, August 7, 2009

Public Safety Day for Seniors at Kittery Estates

By Devin Beliveau
Staff Columnist
When it comes to safety preparedness, many senior citizens in the Kittery area are now a well-informed group. This is due in large part to the Senior Citizens’ Public Safety Day that was held on Aug. 1st at Kittery Estates independent living retirement community.
Senior citizens from Kittery and several surrounding towns were invited to visit Kittery Estates for a day of safety tips, booths run by public safety officials, and even a full-fledged pig roast. The goal of the day was “to make seniors aware of what’s available to them in Kittery, and to help them become familiar with different services, such as the police and paramedics,” said Kittery Estates Manager Susan Rydza.
Safety organizations present on Saturday included the Kittery Police Department (KPD), Kittery Fire Department (KFD), York County Emergency Services, and the York County Elder Abuse Task Force. Civic organizations such as the Kittery Rotary Club and the Kittery Lions also set up booths to talk to local seniors.
Swing and jazz music played outside as seniors mulled about the various booths, with a pig roasting on a spit in the background. Kittery Estates Executive Chef Todd Sweet had been up since 3a.m. preparing for this large luncheon, which was free for all area seniors.
Also hosting a table was the Kittery Police Benevolent Association (KPBA). “I’m a big proponent of community partnerships,” said Officer Brian Cummer, President of the KPBA. “Kittery Estates has been excellent. The Kittery Police Department has had meetings over here, and we’ve even had a spaghetti dinner.”
The KPD wanted to “reach out to the elderly because they’re victimized a lot more than the average person. Computer crimes and frauds are especially tricky and complicated, so what we’re going to do here is provide them with some information and pamphlets,” Cummer explained.
Tickets were sold throughout the event for a 50/50 raffle to benefit the KPBA. “What we do with the money is turn it around and give it back to the community,” said Cummer. “Just last week the Kittery Recreation Department came up a little short for one of their events, and we’re going to provide them with money to help out.”
KFD volunteer firefighter Toby Bowden saw the day as “a chance for us to get out when it’s not an emergency, and let people see what we do, interact with us and get to know us. It helps when we’re actually at an emergency if someone can see friendly faces that they remember.” Standing next to a KFD fire truck, Bowden commented “we also have some fire safety brochures and stickers for the kids.”
In addition to the free lunch, coffee, and ice cream, Susan Ryzda added, “we’re also handing out these “File of Life” magnets. When services come to help seniors, this should be posted on their refrigerator. It has their medications, their wishes, what they need, surgeries they’ve had, allergies, etc. Paramedics know to look for this. It’s an important piece of equipment that can help save lives.”
Kittery Estates residents and non-residents alike turned out on this sunny day to see what the event was all about. “We heard about this and decided we better go down and see what’s going on,” said Alan Brackett, a local senior who does not live at Kittery Estates. “It sounded like something special, and I wanted to see what was going on,” said Kittery Estates resident Helen Miedema. “Plus, they have wonderful meals.”
For more information, contact Kittery Estates at 438-9111.
Photo caption: Senior citizens talk with Kittery Police Officers at the Kittery Police Benevolent Association booth at Kittery Estates’ Senior Citizens Public Safety Day. (Devin Beliveau photo)