Incorporated in Lebanon in 1972, GCSCC is the not-for-profit administrative engine for eight regional Senior Centers in rural Grafton County. With headquarters in Lebanon, GCSCC handles the business affairs so each center can provide essential services that enable seniors and those with disabilities to remain independent, safe and healthy in their own homes. GCSCC also sponsors ServiceLink of Grafton County and RSVP and the Volunteer Center.
Along with the executive director and the other administrative staff, a 17-member volunteer Board of Directors—representing the geographic diversity of the County—oversees GCSCC activities. Additionally, volunteer committees and advisory boards add expertise at both the Council and at each of the senior centers. The agency currently employs about 100 people and has more than 900 volunteers.
A little more than 60 percent of GCSCC’s funding comes from federal, state, county and town governments. For the remainder, GCSCC depends on grassroots support from business sponsors, non profits, individual donors, events and program participants. The support comes in all sizes and shapes and makes it possible for GCSCC and its eight centers to continue its important work on behalf of our older neighbors.
GCSCC Supports Our Eight Senior Centers
GCSCC has a far-reaching and visible presence throughout Grafton County. Senior center staff and volunteers head each weekday to Lebanon, Canaan, Orford, North Haverhill, Plymouth, Bristol, Lincoln and Littleton to provide life-enhancing services such as home-delivered meals, lift-assisted transportation, senior meals and a complete array of outreach services and volunteer opportunities. Our 40 communities are served by GCSCC with financial support from many sources and more than 900 dedicated volunteers and 100 full and part-time staff members.
Each Senior Center has its own unique flavor and enjoys strong community support. To carry out the GCSCC mission, the senior centers provide many essential services to elders in their regions:
- home-delivered meals
- noontime community meals
- lift-equipped vans for transportation to lunch, medical appointments and shopping
- counseling and prevention programming
- long distance transportation via volunteer drivers
- assistance with Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security forms and much more
- Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) and Chore Corps – helps connect seniors who need a little help with community volunteers.
- Bone Builders Exercise Groups sponsored by RSVP
For more than 40 years, GCSCC has responded to community needs by focusing on the elimination of hunger, loneliness, and anxiety among our older neighbors. Grafton County residents are known for being independent and resourceful. It is with that same spirit that we serve our older community members who wish to remain in their own homes in the communities they helped create.
A typical day at one of our senior centers:
- Morning coffee is ready for early birds and volunteers.
- Dispatchers take phone calls and plan daily routes for people needing rides (in our lift-equipped, air-conditioned buses) to lunch, to medical appointments, shopping, etc.
- Each day (at the larger centers) staff and volunteers prepare meals that are then packed and delivered by volunteer drivers to people throughout the county.
- Senior Center kitchens then begin preparing lunch for those who’ll be arriving for the noontime lunch
- Before and after lunch there are programs such as musical entertainment, health clinics, speakers, reading groups, special interest clubs, nutrition classes, Bingo, line dancing, Zumba, use of the computer labs (in larger centers), card games and much more
- Special programs include trips, shopping excursions, holiday celebrations, films, etc.
As the number of people over age 60 increases, we are committed to assuring that our older citizens get the services they need in order to remain independent for as long as possible.
- Community Lunches
- Home Delivered Meals
- Nutrition Education
- Shopping Assistance
- Food Shelves (at some locations)
- Medical Appointments
- Senior Centers
- Outreach & Social Services
- Assistance with Social Security, Medicare, etc.
- Telephone Reassurance
- Friendly Visiting
- Chore Corps Program
- Activities, Programs and Clinics
- Blood Pressure Screenings
- Foot Care
- Health Education
- Health and Wellness Programs
- Volunteer Opportunities
- Service to Older Community Members
- Committee & Advisory Council Membership
- RSVP & The Volunteer Center
Who Uses GCSCC’s Services?
- Older people who need support to maintain an independent lifestyle
- Families who require help in caring for older relatives
- Individuals who are preparing for retirement
- Businesses who are assisting employees with obligations of caring for older family members
- Physicians and other medical professionals providing care for an older person
- Bankers, attorneys and others who are managing the affairs of older people
- Concerned neighbors and community members
Some Centers are Available to Rent for your Family or Community Functions
- Upper Valley Senior Center, call 603-448-4213 for details
- Mascoma Area Senior Center, call 603-523-4333 for details
- Plymouth Area Senior Center, call 603-536-1204 for details
- Horse Meadow Senior Center, call 603-787-2539 for details
The Older Americans Act (OAA), signed in 1965, established the Administration on Aging to address a lack of social services for elders. State agencies began developing community-based services and providing some funding for the creation of local nutrition and transportation programs.
In 1972, a kick-off luncheon was hosted by the First Congregational Church in Lebanon and organized by the University of New Hampshire. Topics of concern were housing, transportation, recreational activities, spiritual well-being, health, employment and retirement. Among those attending the first meeting, 14 people became charter members of a new community organization. The group created articles of agreement and bylaws. A steering committee began the difficult work of setting up the fledgling nonprofit—the Lebanon Senior Citizens Council.
Before any federal funding arrived, the council began a self supporting Meals on Wheels (MOW) program with a $3,024 donation from the Spaulding Potter Charitable Trust to purchase food containers. The first meals were prepared at Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital in Hanover, NH, through the courtesy of Dorothea Bartlett, head dietician at the hospital. Molly Arnold was the first Meals on Wheels volunteer supervisor and was credited with establishing “a strong and viable program.”
Once federal funding arrived and a $1,400 match was received from the newly formed United Way, the council hired staff: Anna Pluhar, director; Helene Chapman, bookkeeper; Molly Arnold, site manager and Meals on Wheels manager; Sally Peters, cook; and Shirley Hubbard, telephone reassurance organizer. To reflect its broader mission and wider community involvement, the agency name was changed to the Upper Valley Senior Citizens Council.
Transportation services began in November 1973, with the arrival of a VW bus provided by the state. Frank O’Shaughnessy was the first part-time driver because – according to meeting minutes – “he knew the standard shift.” Referrals from physicians, social agencies, clergy, friends and families quickly grew the program to the point where the kitchen at MHMH could no longer handle the swell of activity, so meals were prepared on the second floor of the Carter Community Building which the Council had rented because of kitchen and dining room space for community lunches.
By early 1975, the Upper Valley Council “was designated as the Grantee for nutrition in Grafton County by the state.” Months later the Upper Valley Council was asked to manage senior transportation services for the whole county. Council meeting minutes show some apprehension at this designation. “The assignment was accepted with reluctance since the original group was now being expanded county wide.” Meals on Wheels began operating out of the Masonic Lodge in Canaan, NH— the first off-site meal location. Soon GCSCC was managing nutrition sites in Littleton and Plymouth and, by 1977, nutrition programs had begun in Orford, Woodsville, Lincoln, and later in Bristol. Around this time the name of the council was changed to Grafton County Senior Citizens Council to reflect the countywide mission.