The director of Pittsfield’s main senior center retired Friday, ending a long public service career.
May 11th, was the last day of Vin Marinaro’s eight-year tenure as director of the Ralph J. Froio Senior Center.
“Vin Marinaro has been an active, engaged member of our community for many, many years," Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer told WAMC.
“His service as director of the senior center tops off a very long and devoted career to the city of Pittsfield," said Tyer, "beginning with youth organizations and right on up to his retirement from the senior center. He is beloved in our community, and I am grateful to him for his service to our city.”
“I taught in the Catholic schools for 23 years. Coached soccer at St. Joseph’s High School. Coached softball at St. Joseph’s High School. I worked 15 years as director of the Catholic Youth Center in Pittsfield, before they closed, and continue to serve on the CYC board, trying to hold on to that entity. It’s been a great career," Vin Marinaro said to WAMC about his life in public service at the 25th anniversary celebration of the Froio Senior Center on May 1st.
“I think of Derek Jeter and David Ortiz," said Marinaro. "They left on the top. I’m not like a 62-year-old. I’m going to be 70 years old, and I think it was a good time, knowing that we would have a milestone of 25 years, and everyone’s going to be feeling good, and I kinda like to go out at that level, so I feel really good about what we’ve accomplished.”
One of those accomplishments happens every day.
“I’m very proud of our supportive day program, which is our program for Alzheimer’s and dementia,” said Marinaro.
“Our supportive day program I think is one of the marvels of our center. It really is the foundation of the mission we have," said Theresa Bianchi, chair of the Pittsfield Council on Aging. “And that is to provide support for caregivers that may have a parent or loved one that needs special attention during the day, to give them some brief respite so they can go to work or they can pursue their responsibilities, to know that their family member is at a place that is safe, that is caring, that is well-staffed.”
Those who know his work say Marinaro is leaving the senior center better than when he arrived. A recent survey of the wish lists of the centers’ various programs resulted in the Friends of the Ralph J. Froio Senior Center charity group spearheading a sweeping overhaul.
“They actually were able to fund every program," said Marinaro. "They may be simple, but — bingo board, a speaker for the dance classes, an air handler for our woodworking shop, our computer room, our lobby has all new furniture. These shades on the front of the building are all part of the wish lists that we’ve had, and the pool tables have completely been refurbished. So we’re leaving it in good shape.”
The Center is funded by state grants and city money.
“I’m very fortunate, because there’s an awful lot of senior centers where there’s a struggle with the municipal governments to get the funding. I have never had to worry about the city to support the senior center," Marinaro said. "So that relationship has been very good.”
Despite leaving on a high note, there are challenges ahead.
“The thousands of seniors who are going to have to be taken care of. There’s always challenges with the funding — that can do up and down," he said. "It’s a challenge every day, to maintain the building in a good way.”
Marinaro says the center is on the precipice of a change in state funding.
“We get what they call a formula grant, annually, that’s appropriated through the governor," he told WAMC. "It’s based on a per capita amount of seniors. In 2020, that number will change, because of the 2020 census. We’ll find that probably we have more seniors, and the appropriation will be less per senior. We’re dealing with still a wave of seniors coming into our community, so the challenges are real.”
While Marinaro is technically retiring — golf and a trip to the Cape are planned — his schedule might not reflect the change. From the Youth Council of the Berkshire Regional Employment Board to the Executive Office of Elder Affairs advisory committee, Marinaro still has goals for the county he loves.
“I’m still going to be working on the Age Friendly, which is basically an initiative to develop communities that have safe sidewalks and transportation and housing. And — if it’s good for seniors, it’s also good for everyone,” Marinaro said.
The city says it has begun a search process to replace Marinaro in collaboration with the Council on Aging. They hope to appoint a candidate by mid-June.