For three months of the year, from January through March, Thursdays from 10am to 2pm, you can find a group of your neighbors in the Undercroft of the Good Shepherd. The program that is in it’s fifth year, part of Helping Elders Live in Place (H.E.L.P.) and generously funded by Rangeley Health and Wellness and the Rangeley Rotary is called Winter Senior Socials, but you don’t actually have to be a senior. It’s true, anyone can stop in and as soon as you walk in the door, I am sure you will be welcomed by more than one friendly and probably familiar face.

I recently shared a press release reminding people of the program but I thought this program deserved another telling from a more personal point-of-view. In addition, several different groups of people reminded me of this program and so I was happy to find a break in my day to come for a visit this past Thursday.

Soup for you! Stephanie Chu-O’Neil

I had a good time. I brought my friend Frankie. He had fun too. We both enjoyed the homemade soup. He had some soup made by the kids from the C.A.S.A. program, (another great program in our community). I also had delicious soup, but mine was made by The Rangeley Highlander’s own Scrappy Chef, Joanne Blais. We also had some coffee, some nice homemade desserts and most importantly of course, we enjoyed some nice conversation with people we hadn’t seen in quite a while.

Friendly ladies at the dominoes table. Stephanie Chu-O’Neil

Over on the cribbage table I saw Carmen Glidden and Chick Hembrow. Over at the dominoes table I saw Mary Hembrow, Ann Lounsbury and Marge Miller. Anna Mather and Brian Ellis were at the puzzle table.  Allen Wicken, part of the H.E.L.P. committee was also there but not in any official capacity. “I come for the soup and conversation”, he smiled. On this day, Patricia Ellis was one of the people helping to serve soup but she’s also the coordinator of the program. Mrs. Ellis started coming as a nice way of spending time with her mother Rita who also both helps and enjoys the program. She says about 25 people come every week and each week there is a different guest or event. On this particular Thursday, members from local emergency services were there. Rangeley Fire Chief Michael Bacon gave out free smoke alarms. (Frankie liked that).

Stephanie Chu-O’Neil

When I was a kid, living in a city, I did not go away in the summers. I participated in a program called the Police Athletic League (P.A.L.). P.A.L. allowed me and my friends to go to a safe place and have fun. On sunny days, we would play softball and kickball, but on rainy days, we would come inside and play games like dominoes, checkers, board games, card games like “spit” and “war” and my favorite tabletop game, Nok Hockey. We would also get a nice lunch. I’m guessing the P.A.L. was started to help city kids like myself stay out of trouble by offering them a nice and fun option. I loved it. I contacted some of my old friends from school and they felt the same way. It seems so simple but it really meant a lot to me.  I couldn’t help but be reminded of this when we sat in the Undercroft.

We all know the winters in Rangeley are quite beautiful. Sometimes however, it’s just not. If you’re not enjoying some outdoor winter activity, if you’re tired from shoveling, or if you are getting the seasonal blues from the lack of daylight, it can be, well, not fun. This free program is just the perfect answer to this. Don’t be shy, come in and see for yourself. You won’t be alone and hey, if you don’t want to go by yourself call me or Frankie.

Other HELP programs include Neighbors Calling Neighbors, a phone service for homebound seniors, and HELP Adult Respite Care, a day program for functionally and/or cognitively impaired seniors. If you would like more information about HELP or any of the senior programs that they provide, visit or call Rangeley Health and Wellness at 864-4397 ext. 4.


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