Middlebury helps those in need

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Middlebury Social/Senior Services Director JoAnn Cappelletti admires a donated backpack as she stands at one end of a table filled with donated school supplies. St. George’s Episcopal Church, St. John of the Cross Church and Revv Fitness Club in Southbury generously donated supplies for those needing them. (Marjorie Needham photo)


Middlebury may be among the towns labeled “affluent,” and that might make people think it means no one in town has trouble making ends meet, but Middlebury Senior/Social Services Director JoAnn Cappelletti said that’s not the case. “That’s so untrue. So untrue. We have just as many needy people as other towns our size. There are no towns that don’t need the services our offices provide,” she said

Region 15’s first day of school was approaching when we interviewed Cappelletti, and she had a table stacked high with school supplies. They were for families struggling financially to provide their children with all the items on the long school supply lists for the different Region 15 schools. Thanks to donations from St. George’s Episcopal Church, St. John of the Cross Church and Revv Fitness Club of Southbury, she had ample supplies of almost every item on the list. She did need more scientific calculators for middle school students.

Those who need school supplies or any of the other services mentioned later in this article can contact Cappelletti at 203-577-4166, ext. 3, or jcappelletti@middlebury-ct.org. Client confidentiality is maintained at all times.

Cappelletti’s office on the second floor of Shepardson Community Center at 1172 Whittemore Road in Middlebury is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. or by appointment. During July, in the 20 hours a week her department is open, it provided 368 clients with 846 services.

Among the services it offers are transportation for seniors and disabled residents, a food bank, energy assistance, help managing Eversource accounts and payments, food stamps (SNAP), Medicare/Medicaid information, two fuel assistance programs (Operation Fuel helps with utilities, home heating fuel and water and is currently taking applications, and Connecticut Energy Assistance helps with home heating costs and will start taking applications in September) a blood pressure clinic, a medical supplies closet, garden-fresh produce, a senior grab and go lunch program, the Senior Dine program, income tax assistance and a renter rebate program that takes applications from May 1 to September 30.

The Food Bank serves 20 to 30 families, seniors and disabled individuals a month. As we go to press, the food bank would welcome donations of cereal, tuna fish, dessert mixes (Jello, Instant Pudding), crackers and school snacks. Frequency of use is determined by income and the number of family members, Cappelletti said.

The medical supplies closet is filled with items donated when they were no longer needed – walkers, wheel chairs, canes, crutches and commodes. Right now, they have a scooter and a chair lift available to any resident who needs it. Middlebury residents borrow items they need from the closet and return them when they are no longer needed.

Senior programs for those over 50 include lunch and learn presentations (currently on hold due to COVID), yoga, tai chi, adult strengthening, computer training, art classes, knitting and crocheting, the community garden, billiards, Mahjong, and senior bus trips.

Cappelletti has been working for the town since May 1977, when she started as the town’s municipal agent for the elderly. Later, she became the senior center director, and when the social services director left, she became director of both the senior center and social services.

She said the thing she loves most about her job is being able to help people who need help but don’t know how to get it. “It’s a very rewarding experience when someone says to you, ‘Thank you. I couldn’t have done this without you,’” she said.

Her next annual project after providing school supplies will be Thanksgiving, when she supplies 30 families and seniors with the makings for Thanksgiving dinner. It will be followed closely by Christmas, when she supplies more than 30 families and seniors with the makings for Christmas dinner along with Christmas gifts.

Thanksgiving donations get a big boost from Middlebury Elementary School, where every class is assigned one item to collect. They provide everything but the turkeys, and residents step up and donate those.

Cappelletti said of residents, “One thing I have to say about our town is they have always come through for me. When COVID hit, neighborhoods were collecting donations and bringing them to me. COVID brought people closer together.”

Senior/Social Services was one of the town departments that had to stay open one way or another during the COVID pandemic. “We were here. We never changed our work schedule. We just followed COVID protocols,” Cappelletti said.








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