Dino Funari, owner of Vitamin Sea Brewing, presented Director of Elder Services Lisa Thornton with a check for $1,000 at this week’s Select Board meeting, representing part of the proceeds from the family-friendly craft beer garden that operated on a portion of the Hull Redevelopment Authority property in August.
“We wanted to find a way to give back to the town out of appreciation for this opportunity, and what better way [to give back] than through the senior center? We love this town and hope to do more,” Funari said.
The donation from Weymouth-based Vitamin Sea will be put toward new programming, a building improvement, or some other use, Thornton said.
Board Chair Jennifer Constable congratulated Funari on the success of the beer garden, noting that she received a number of inquiries about whether it would return again another time.
Funari said he hopes to offer some kind of event(s) next season, contingent on the necessary approvals. “This year we had some out-of-state people and others walking from their neighborhoods to the beer garden before or after dinner. It was exciting, with a good mix of people and no problems.”
Looking ahead, he said, “We’re working on some other opportunities and hope to have some exciting news soon.”
Constable welcomed Thornton to her first in-person Select Board meeting since she was chosen to fill the director position nearly a year ago. “We’ve been hearing a lot of positive things about the senior center,” she said.
Thornton described her experience so far as “really enjoyable and challenging. There are a lot of new and exciting things going on and a lot of support from the community from the first day I arrived and even before then.”
Town Manager Philip Lemnios praised Thornton for her efforts during a very challenging time. “Lisa had a very difficult act to follow,” he said, referring to the much-respected former director, Barbara Lawlor. “But she stepped into that role and has performed extraordinarily well. We had a lot of great candidates, and we know we chose the right one” (in a unanimous decision).
During that portion of the Select Board’s meeting, residents of all ages were encouraged to fill out the needs assessment survey that is due back Oct. 8, not only from seniors but also from residents with parents or other relatives who may need specific services in the future.
The UMass Boston Gerontology Institute is conducting the survey in partnership with the town and the Hull Council on Aging to provide information about seniors’ needs and how to enhance services to what has become Hull’s fastest-growing demographic.
“The [senior center] operation is moving in the right direction,” Lemnios said. “The challenge over the next couple of years is to figure out what the assessment data means, what initiatives will flow out of that, and how to fund them.”
(More information is available on the town website.)
In other business at the meeting:
* During a goals and objectives discussion, Lemnios noted that it is important for town officials to keep their eye on ferry service, which he said is currently running at 20 percent capacity.
He noted that the MBTA “has some difficult fiscal issues to confront, even with [recent] additional federal funding, and we will need to monitor the situation closely.”
At some point, Lemnios continued, he “fully expects the MBTA to approach the town of Hull regarding the fact that both the Hull and Hingham ferries are running under-capacity and that Hingham has a large ferry terminal.”
Lemnios predicts that the MBTA may at some point recommend a consolidation of the two ferry services for that reason.
* The board also reiterated its support for local businesses, especially during the pandemic, when some are operating with scaled-back hours due in part to a lack of staff.