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Letter: Negative agenda?

It is unfortunate and infuriating that people with negative personal agendas, like Ms. Kelsey, have been bad-mouthing the Senior Center in Shelburne Falls. The center has long been an important community resource — a hub of information whose staff not only writes grants and initiates programs but also coordinates volunteer efforts to benefit local seniors.

In her letter, Ms. Kelsey neglected to mention that what used to be the “Friends of the Senior Center” only became the “Friends of West County Seniors” after members of Colrain’s Council on Aging, who belonged to the Friends, chose to resign from the Senior Center Consortium. Reluctant to lose access to money that had been raised over the years — donated mainly by people who specifically wanted to support the center — they filled a room with their “friends” and voted to expand the organization’s focus.

According to the Friends’ bylaws, members regularly vote on how to distribute funds, and the decision to “gift” $10,640 to the Center was a legitimate exercise; indeed that “gift” was nearly $5,000 less than the previous year’s. But Ms. Kelsey is obviously bitter because her contingent was outvoted that day by individuals from Ashfield, Buckland and Shelburne who joined the Friends and voted, not as members of the Senior Center Board, but as residents of those three towns. Her contention that the Friends fundraising is down $5,000 because the Center’s new gift account is up $5,000 is misguided. Other than mailing annual appeal letters, these Friends have done virtually nothing else to raise funds, whereas many local people still want to support the center.

It may be that Ms. Kelsey really wants the organization to be called “Friends of West County Seniors Except for Those in Ashfield, Buckland and Shelburne,” odd, considering she lives in Buckland. But the fact is, the Senior Center staff, member COAs and volunteers are committed to enriching the lives of our towns’ seniors … and we will work toward that goal to the best of our ability with or without support from Marilyn Kelsey’s “Friends.”

ELLEN ELLER

Shelburne Falls

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