Wrentham’s Senior Center Welcomes New Outreach Worker
By Angie Fitton
People like Robin Tobin are true pillars of the community. With an obvious passion for helping others, it’s clear she is kind and compassionate and willing to lend an ear. Wrentham residents can reach out to her in just about any situation.
In April, the 40-year-old Tobin took on the role of Outreach Worker at the Wrentham Senior Center. Though she has lived in various places around the state, she is now back in her hometown, raising her two young daughters with her husband.
For nearly 11 years, Tobin was a team member at the Canton Department of Elder and Human Services, formerly known as the Canton Council of Aging. She was responsible for an array of services where people could go for help with state and federal assistance programs. She is a 2005 graduate of Lesley University in Cambridge, where she received her bachelor’s degree in Art Therapy and Human Services. She has worked with people of all ages, but aging clientele are her favorite.
As an outreach worker, Tobin’s mission is to keep seniors safe and make sure all their needs are met. She primarily identifies the needs of seniors over 60 but can help with resources for younger residents who have food and financial insecurities as well.
For seniors having financial difficulties, Tobin determines what kind of assistance is needed and walks them through the process of receiving support. She helps with SNAP (food stamps), fuel assistance, cash assistance and will also work with the tax assessor’s office.
Sadly, too many seniors have found themselves in dire situations, especially since the pandemic began. Many programs shut down during COVID, and it was difficult for seniors to get help. Tobin can assist the homeless as they apply for state or federal housing and direct them to shelters. She works with the Elder Abuse Line, helping seniors in unsafe circumstances. For people with poor self-care or who neglect their own basic needs, she can assist in finding facilities where they can thrive.
“COVID has done a number on seniors,” Tobin said, referring to the isolation and associated problems the pandemic caused. “Isolation leads to loneliness, depression and anxiety. It has also led to seniors misusing alcohol and prescription drugs.” The Wrentham Senior Center, she notes, is there to help anyone who feels they have nowhere to turn.
Another major service that Tobin assists with is HESSCO Legal Services for southern Norfolk County. The organization serves Plainville, Wrentham, Foxborough, Sharon, Canton, Norwood, Westwood, Dedham, Walpole, Norfolk, Millis and Medfield. HESSCO helps not only with legal services, which are provided on a sliding scale after a free consultation, but also provides home services, like Meals on Wheels, helps with shopping and meal prep, medication management and three rides a year to important medical appointments. For those who don’t qualify for HESSCO, the Senior Center has a list of private care agencies. There is also an Emergency Alert Program and the Are You OK program to help ensure seniors that live alone are safe.
The Wrentham Senior Center also provides its own transportation for seniors, working on a Monday through Friday schedule servicing multiple needs, such as rides to the doctor, the grocery store or pharmacy and also to the Senior Center itself. RSVP of Norfolk County provides rides for veterans.
At the Senior Center, older residents have many ways to socialize, Tobin said. Programs include a knitting and crochet club, exercise classes, chair and traditional yoga, dance or art classes, and a walking group. Occasionally, the center hosts guest speakers. Recently, Norfolk County Sheriff Patrick McDermott spoke about scammers and how seniors, their primary target, can protect themselves. There is also a weekly SHINE counselor available, who can help seniors understand Medicare and supplemental programs.
Tobin also hopes to create a caregiver support group. Caregivers with questions or concerns about what resources are available to those in their care are encouraged to call and speak with her.
Along with her role as an outreach worker, Tobin is also a notary public.
Tobin says she is honored to be the Outreach Worker for the Wrentham Council on Aging. She notes she is grateful to the Director, Janet Angelico, the COA board, staff and volunteers. She is also thankful to Wrentham officials and town departments, saying she appreciates their ongoing support while she is transitioning into her Outreach role.
To learn about resources available through the Senior Center, call Tobin at 508-384-5425. Or drop by the Senior Center, located at 400 Taunton Street.