story & photos
by Jessica Warzeniak
“It is a day to thank people and a day to be thankful,” said Bruce MacDonald, president, Pawcatuck Neighborhood Center (PNC) Board of Directors, in a touching speech at the dedication of the Robert A. Granato Senior Center at the PNC on May 27. “We are here today to start writing the next chapter of the uplifting story of the PNC.”
The ceremony was filled with joy, but there was an underlying sadness. The senior center was finally done, but Bob Granato, one of its biggest champions, was not there to see it.
“This is a reminder to all of us how wonderful you were,” said a teary eyed Christopher Granato in memory of his late father. “Thank you to the Town of Stonington for bestowing such a wonderful honor on my father.”
Bob’s wife, Carol, sons and grandchildren were there for the dedication. In his speech, Bruce addressed Bob’s grandchildren, quoting President John F. Kennedy, “‘Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.’ Your grandfather decided to make things happen.”
The $1.1 million senior center project is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through the State Department of Economic & Community Development (DECD) Small Cities Program, the State of CT and the Town of Stonington.
“This is a resource I hope will be utilized by every eligible citizen… They now have the senior center they deserve,” said Robert Elmer III, Chairman, Stonington Commission on Aging.
“This senior center is a focal point of the community, and I am thrilled to be a part of it,” said Pamela Giannini, MSW, director, Bureau of Aging, State Department of Social Services. Pamela spoke of how fitting that the senior center opening was in May since it is “Older Americans Month.” The Administration on Aging picked this year’s theme, “Living Today for a Better Tomorrow,” because it reflects on their “…continued focus on prevention efforts and programs throughout the country that are helping older adults have better health as they age and avoid the risks of chronic disease, disability and injury.” Exactly the purpose of the Robert A. Granato Senior Center.
“This is a journey. In some ways this is a journey that started in 1995,” said Bruce referring to when Nick Kepple and Sam Agnello started the PNC. Speaking about the progression of the senior center project, he said, “Even the longest journey begins with a single step. Bill Brown took that step, and we greatly appreciate that.”
“This exceeds the dreams I had and I’m sure it exceeds the dreams of Bob Granato,” said Selectman Bill Brown, Town of Stonington. “This is my legacy. I will know ‘til the day I die we were able to make this thing happen.”