Officials talk healthcare, Livable Home Tax, potholes at Pilgrim Senior Center

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Seniors at the Pilgrim Senior Center had a chance to voice comments and concerns to some elected officials this week. Governor Gina Raimondo, Senators Erin Lynch Prata, Jeanine Calkin, and Michael McCaffrey, and Representative Joseph McNamara visited the Center Tuesday.

Those visiting the center that day could be heard discussing issues important to them, namely potholes, with the state leaders. In addition, Raimondo said she was interested to find many of the seniors she spoke with told her to “keep fighting” for her college plan.

“Several people said to me ‘it’s what you need these days to get a job. You need so much education to get a job, so thank you for helping young people get that education,’” Raimondo said.

She added that she’d been asked to continue supporting senior centers “because for a lot of people here, it’s the only time they get out of the house [for] a meal, companionship. They all said they love this place.”

Raimondo also told those at the center that “we’re going to make sure you can keep your healthcare coverage.”

“A lot of these folks are probably on Medicaid and Medicare, so any cuts to Medicaid could really hurt people and that’s why I oppose them,” she said.

McNamara discussed his legislation, the Livable Home Tax Credit, which would provide tax relief to elderly and disabled citizens who make accessibility modifications to their homes so they can remain living in them. He said seniors he spoke to that day were supportive of the legislation “for good reason.”

“Keeping seniors in their home is good for the Rhode Island economy because seniors living at home costs taxpayers a lot less than being in a nursing home and on Medicaid,” he said. “So economically, it’s a good investment.”

McNamara noted that the “Gaspee Seniors” in his district were concerned after the closure of Buttonwoods since they had been meeting there for years, but that they have been able to adjust to coming to Pilgrim.

“They were concerned about the availability of parking here and now that they’ve made the change, they’re very happy and they realize it’s closer, more convenient for them… They’ve made the adjustment, so I’m pleased with that,” he said.

Calkin was happy to meet the “friendly” seniors spending time at Pilgrim and said she, too, understood the importance of senior centers as “social outlets” for those who use them. She spoke similarly to Raimondo about healthcare saying, “We have to do what we can in Rhode Island to make sure they’re not impacted.”

“We have to make sure we keep funding available for programs and if anything comes down the pipe from the federal level, we just have to make sure that we are ready and willing to do something to protect the seniors here,” Calkin said.

HIGH LOW JACK: Governor Raimondo chatted with Joyce Wawryk and Kathy Dermo as they played a card game at the Pilgrim Senior Center. (Warwick Beacon photos)

INTRODUCTIONS: Senator Jeanine Calkin meets with a group of seniors during a meet and greet at Pilgrim Senior Center on Tuesday.

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