GLOUCESTER — Public Health Director Karin Carroll and Cape Ann Mass in Motion Grant Coordinator Jennifer Donnelly are pleased to share that the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) recently awarded Massachusetts Community Health and Healthy Aging Funds to support the Cape Ann Seniors on the GO program.
In September, $14.5 million in grants were awarded by the DPH in its inaugural offering of the Massachusetts Community and Healthy Aging Funds to 32 lead organizations and 35 of their partner organizations working to address systemic barriers to health, health equity and racial equity. To learn more, click here.
Cape Ann Mass in Motion has been awarded approximately $343,600, to be divided over five years, to support its efforts to expand access to healthy, nutritious food and exercise opportunities to older adults on Cape Ann. Gloucester’s Health Department is the host agency of Cape Ann Mass in Motion and oversees the initiative.
“Unfortunately, transportation often plays a significant barrier when older adults seek out opportunities to obtain healthy and nutritious foods, like those available at a farmers market or the Open Door Food Pantry,” Donnelly said. “The same goes for those seeking opportunities to exercise, for instance by walking the boulevard. The Cape Ann Seniors on the GO bus makes it possible for older adults to access these opportunities, which make a meaningful and significant difference in their ability to foster a healthier lifestyle.”
The funding will support work in Rockport, Gloucester, Manchester-by-the-Sea and Essex ongoing through the Cape Ann Seniors on the GO program.
Beginning Tuesday, Nov. 3, Cape Ann Seniors on the GO will also be launching a pilot program expanding its services to any older adult resident of Gloucester age 65 years old or older. The expansion will allow these residents to participate in any of the Cape Ann Seniors on the Go free scheduled trips for access to food and physical activity such as trips to grocery stores and food pantries. For the past year, the program has served the older adult housing complexes in Gloucester including those who live in Gloucester’s McPherson Park, Sheedy Park, Curtis Clark, Lincoln Park and Poplar Park.
The bus also has services available to older adults in several other Cape Ann communities, including older adults who live in Rockport neighborhoods Millbrook Park, Pigeon Cove Ledges and Rockport High School Apartments. Cape Ann Seniors on the GO also funds free transportation services for older adults who live in public housing in Manchester and Essex.
“This funding will allow us to continue and expand upon the Seniors on the GO program, which is a tremendous resource for many older adults who need and want more opportunities to access healthy food and exercise, especially amid the challenges so many people are facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Carroll said. “It’s more important than ever that people maintain healthy habits, and so we’re incredibly thankful to the DPH for this funding and support.”
Cape Ann Mass in Motion is also currently recruiting residents of older adult public housing complexes on Cape Ann to serve on a resident advisory board to better inform its work and assist with outreach among their peers. A small stipend is provided to participants, and for more information or to apply, contact Cape Ann Seniors on the GO Program Assistant Rosalie Nicastro at [email protected] or call (978) 491-9175.
About Cape Ann Mass in Motion
Overseen by the City of Gloucester Health Department and funded by Mass in Motion and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the Cape Ann Mass in Motion Coalition represents the communities of Gloucester, Rockport, Essex and Manchester-by-the-Sea. Those involved in the coalition work to advance policy, systems, and environmental change as it relates to healthy food access and active living for all members of our community. For more information or to get involved in the coalition, contact Cape Ann Mass in Motion Grant Coordinator Jennifer Donnelly at [email protected]
About Seniors on the GO
Cape Ann Seniors on the GO provides free transportation for access to healthy food and physical activity to older adults who live in Gloucester’s McPherson Park, Sheedy Park, Curtis Clark, Lincoln Park and Poplar Park. Free transportation is also provided to older adults who live in Rockport’s Millbrook Park, Pigeon Cove Ledges and Rockport High School Apartments.
Older adults looking to learn about the Cape Ann Seniors on the Go program schedule or reserve a free seat can do so by calling the Cape Ann Transit Authority (CATA) at 978-283-7916. Riders are limited to two bags on the bus.
Bus riders must wear masks amid COVID-19. In an effort to keep passengers safe, the number of riders on one bus is limited and an additional bus may be added to the route so people can be spread out if needed. The Cape Ann Transit Authority provides the transportation for the program and continues to follow local and state guidelines for the cleaning and sanitation of the buses after each ride.
The program is funded through the Massachusetts Community Compact Initiative and done in conjunction with Rockport Council on Aging, Gloucester Council on Aging , Rockport Housing, Gloucester Housing, Harborlight Community Partners and the Gloucester Health Department.
Residents at older adult housing in Manchester and Essex also have access to this free transportation service through a collaboration with the Manchester and Essex Councils on Aging. More information can be obtained by calling the Manchester Council on Aging at 978-526-7500.