New director charts new course for Fairfield Senior Center

New Director Terry Giegengack visits pickleball players, Al Liptak, Maryann Charmoz, Tom DuPona, Doug Chandler, Norma Zanetti and Steve Burnfeld at the Fairfield Senior Center. (Kendra Wingate Photo)

New Director Terry Giegengack visits pickleball players, Al Liptak, Maryann Charmoz, Tom DuPona, Doug Chandler, Norma Zanetti and Steve Burnfeld at the Fairfield Senior Center. (Kendra Wingate Photo)

The new leader of Senior and Social Services in Fairfield wants people to want to attend the activities she plans in her new town.

“I think having fun is a really important part of life — so my mantra is to definitely have this be a very warm, welcoming and fun place for people to come,” Director of Human and Social Services Teresa Giegengack said. “I look forward to coming to Fairfield each day. I love the diversity, nature and personality of the town and I love my job!”

Teresa Giegengack

Teresa Giegengack

Giegengack has worked in a variety of different positions in Westport throughout the last 30 years, one of which was as youth counselor for host home families in Westport and Weston.

“I was asked to come back to the town of Westport (after taking a break to raise my family) as a case worker for Senior Services,” Giegengack said. “I worked my way up to providing a lot of supervision for the clinic staff in social work and working with families as well as with seniors and people with disabilities, before eventually becoming the assistant director of the department.”

Giegengack credited the director, Barbara Butler, with teaching her a great deal about running a department offering human services.

“So I was well prepared and thrilled to be offered this position in Fairfield in March of last year,” Giegengack said.

A resource center for Fairfield’s older adults and their families, the Senior Center, 100 Mona Terrace, boasts more than 1,000 registered members, with an average age in the low- to mid-70s. Programs include lectures, woodworking, quilting, continuing education, music/singing, table tennis and pool, a walkers club, an investment club, a weekly movie, and health screenings.

Transportation is also available to and from the Senior Center, to medical appointments and for food shopping.

Other services include legal counseling, insurance and long-term care counseling, notary, and information on housing, fuel and tax assistance and home visits.

“I was unaware of how important a place like the Senior Center is to many seniors until I spoke to people here and so many told me what this place means to them,” Giegengack said.

A report last fall examined if the Senior Center could meet the needs of seniors given its budget, staffing level, facility, programs, services, and management processes. The report, which may be found at fairfieldct.org/senior.htm, compares the Fairfield Senior Center with six others in the region.

“Recommendations included extended hours, so we started a Wednesday Night Out last spring,” Giegengack said. “It was very successful — 100 people came over the course of the three nights we opened.”

A new gym floor was also suggested as a future capital improvement.

“We have quite a large gym, and our No. 1 program here is our fitness program.”

Hot lunch is also served daily for $2, after the morning coffee shop hours. Giegengack hopes to offer breakfast in the future.

A volunteer luncheon is scheduled for Dec. 11 from 1 to 3 (250 people are already registered). Ms. America is scheduled to sing at the Senior Center Feb. 12.

Volunteers of all ages, including teens, Scouts and clubs, help with fund raising and programs. Information is available at 203-256-3169.

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