SOUTH PLAINFIELD – In efforts to help seniors stay safe and be prepared for storm season, the South Plainfield Senior Center held a drive-by Storm Ready event on Sept. 16.  Seniors signed up ahead of time and were able to pick up kits of supplies that contained water, flashlight, batteries, shelf-stable food, self-care items, lists of emergency contact numbers and more.  

“Storm season is scary for many people, especially senior citizens,” said Senior Center Director Tree Olano.  “The heavy rain can cause flooding, the lightning and thunder are loud, and the fierce wind can feel and sound like the house is falling down.   The power can also go out leaving seniors in the dark with no phones or outside communication.” 

Since there have already been several storms hitting the region, the center decided to take action and help prepare members for upcoming stormy conditions.

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“The ingenuity and thoughtfulness of our Senior Center is always impressive,” said Council President and Liaison to the Senior Center Christine Faustini.  “They realized that storm season was approaching, and they wanted to be sure their members are prepared for the unexpected.  There is so much to be done to make sure you are safe these days, this is a little help to take additional stress away.” 

“We wanted to make sure that all our seniors feel safe,” said Olano.  “We provided everyone with a flashlight, batteries, water, shelf-stable meal, emergency phone numbers, and of course, the Senior Center contact information. We also included tips to maintain safety within the home during a storm.”

In addition to safety kits, the center set up tables piled high with pass time activities. Sharon Ciullo, Driver for Middlesex County Meals on Wheels who also heads the Senior Center Outreach program, manned the tables of activities.

“We had puzzles for them to take, games and a lot of books, all for them to take,” said Ciullo.  “We don’t need anything back.  Most of them were interested in the puzzles.  We had over 50 puzzles and I think we have about six left.  They were very appreciative.  It was a good day and it’s nice to see everyone.  They like to get out, and they were safe distanced.”

Senior Center members say they feel blessed to have such a caring Senior Center and community.

“It’s really wonderful that they thought of this event and to be prepared, you can’t beat that!” said Agnes Roenbeck.  “It’s very good, very good.  Thank you so much, Senior Center staff.”

“We have one of the nicest senior centers and a lot of things to do all the time,” said Marge Geurts.  “There’s always something going on.”  

“I don’t think any other town takes care of their seniors like South Plainfield,” said Gerry Brown Senior Center member and volunteer.  “They’re top-notch.  It’s very important because we reach out to help the seniors at all times.  Everyone here is doing a fantastic job.”

The Senior Center has been closed due to COVID-19 since mid-March.  Ever since Olano and the center’s staff have been hard at work reaching out by phone to seniors, delivering meals, hand making over 500 face masks, organizing drive-by events, collaborating with the South Plainfield Community Pool to hold aqua classes, and making sure seniors have everything they need to be safe, stay healthy, and keep socially engaged.  

“COVID-19 can’t stop us from taking care of the senior population,” Olano said.  “Special thanks to Heather Barry with Social Devices and Eddie Eggert from Herrs for their generous donations to our Storm Ready event.” 

Seniors enjoyed the event as they drove past the back door of the center stopping to pick up their supplies and say hello to the beloved staff members and volunteers they have missed so much.  

“Great Job always by the South Plainfield Senior Center staff and volunteers for their hard work getting ready for each event,” said Faustini.  “It was really such a pleasure to see some our seniors at the Storm Ready event.  We all miss seeing them and they miss their home away from home as well.  Hoping we can be together again safely soon!”

“The seniors all had a really good time today,” said Ciullo.  “I think it was a good way for them to get out, see some friends, pick up some new supplies for their houses.  They all seemed to be really positive, and they really liked it a lot.”

“Everyone is really appreciative of what’s being done for us,” said Grace McGuinnis, Senior Center volunteer and member. “We’re truly appreciative.”

“South Plainfield probably has one of the nicest Senior Centers,” said Shirley Hlavaty.  “We are so lucky, and we can’t wait to get back full force.”

“I’m proud of our center and the services we provide to the senior community,” said Olano.  “We do these events so the seniors know we are thinking about them all the time and can’t wait until we can reopen the center and be together again.” 

For the latest information on South Plainfield Senior Center events, visit and like their Facebook page #spseniorstrong.