A happy congruence of grassroots activism and public funding led to the founding of a new aging services organization in the Upper Valley 40 years ago. Founded as the Lebanon Senior Citizens Council in 1972, the seedling organization started by delivering meals to frail elders in the community from the Carter Community Building in downtown Lebanon. Within a year, the Council broadened its scope programmatically and geographically and changed its name to the Upper Valley Senior Citizens Council.
By the end of the decade, the Council moved to the former A & P Grocery Store on Campbell Street, just across the street from the original location, and converted the building into a multi-purpose Senior Center.
From inception, the Council’s articles of agreement stipulated that the organization would “affiliate with organizations with similar aims on county, state & national level.” By the early 1980s this had come to pass. Similar aging services groups had originated in Canaan, Bristol, Plymouth, Lincoln, Littleton, Haverhill, and Orford, along with RSVP, and they signed on to operate under one not-for-profit entity, renamed Grafton County Senior Citizens Council, Inc. (GCSCC) in 1985.
Cooperation, collegiality, and common cause have kept GCSCC strong and vital through four decades. As one unified nonprofit, GCSCC purchased and renovated a former railroad depot—now the Plymouth Regional Senior Center. The Council worked with the County and Town of Haverhill to build the Horse Meadow Senior Center, planned from the ground up by a group of passionate community volunteers. GCSCC forged strong working relationships and a history of support from the County and all towns in the region, notably Littleton and Canaan, where federal and local funds led to the development of the Littleton Area and Mascoma Area Senior Centers, buildings owned by the towns but used daily as GCSCC centers. In 2000, GCSCC accepted the responsibility of sponsoring the ServiceLink Resource Center of Grafton County, providing invaluable information, assistance, and specialized counseling to older adults, adults with disabilities, and those who care for them.
Through the decades, GCSCC’s success can be quantified—we now serve more than 8,000 individuals annually. In 1980, we served 1,873 individuals; in 1990, we served 3,922; in 2000, 5,983. Yet, our purpose has remained steady: to provide programs and services to support the health, dignity and independence of older adults and adults with disabilities in our communities.