After many months of hard work and fundraising, Tilton Selectman Patricia Consentino (center) and resident Tom Gallant of Up-Country builders (far left), joined the Caring Hands Assisting Tilton committee to celebrate the grand opening of the new Tilton Senior Center last Thursday afternoon. (Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
May 16, 2012TILTON — Ideas happen, and sometimes dreams do come true, as affirmed by Titlon resident and Selectman Patricia Consentino when she saw her dream of a comfortable, nurturing senior center to become a reality last Thursday afternoon, as resident Barbara Salley cut the ribbon and officially opened the new facility.
Consentino said the quest to build the center began in 2010 at a selectmen's meeting, when the board members were wondering what to do about the old grange building in the Lochmere district of town.
"I told them maybe we could use it as a senior center, and asked them to give me a little time," she said. "The rest is history."
History is a key word in the new center, from the black and white photographic memories of days gone by in Tilton, to the beautiful antique mural behind the stage, and tin walls and ceilings painted pale blue and white to brighten the room and enhance the artistry of the architecture.
"It was my thought, but it took a community to come together and make this happen," said Consentino.
The most important part of that community was her fellow co-founder of Caring Hands Across Tilton, Tom Gallant, who was intent on caring for local elderly residents who needed assistance.
Gallant and his construction company, Up-Country Builders, spent countless hours rebuilding walls, constructing new bathrooms, painting and restoring the Tilton Grange to a place that can now service the future of the community while honoring the past. Most of his time was a labor of love, donated to the town.
"My work here is done," he said with a smile as he enjoyed the crowds of people who came out to enjoy the grand opening.
Joining local residents from surrounding communities was Executive Councilor Ray Burton. Burton said he was impressed with the preservation efforts and community spirit behind the entire project.
"It's obvious the committee (CHAT) kept the best of the old and modernized it. This will be here forever and enjoyed by the thousands who will pass through," said Burton.
Among the modernizations installed by Up-Country Builders and CHAT volunteers were computers, donated by Northway Bank, and flooring, handicapped access ramps and kitchen cabinetry from Home Depot. Lowes chipped in with many contributions for the facility, too, and pots, pans, utensils, even tables and comfortable chairs came from local businesses, all with the intent to help make the center complete.
Elaine Grace was just one of many who was touched by the end result of the months of labor and donations.
"This brings tears to my eyes. I'm so happy there's a place like this to come to," she said.
Janet Hill was equally impressed, and said seniors in Tilton owed a lot to Consentino and Gallant for their vision and hard work in getting the center built.
"And how wonderful were all the stores and businesses in the area for pitching in? We couldn't have done it without them, either," Hill said.
CHAT committee member and Tilton Police Chief Robert Cormier was on hand for the celebration, along with other local police chiefs, fire chiefs and members of their departments. Cormier was all smiles as he watched everyone enjoy the food, music and camaraderie.
"This is what this place was built for, for everyone to come together," Cormier said. "Just looking around, seeing everyone have fun, it makes it all worthwhile."
The Hosmer and Gaudet families from Tilton AutoServ, who were also supportive of the project, came out to cheer on the completion of the new center, along with many others. Pam Jolivette, Elder Services Director for the Belknap-Merrimack Community Action Programs, along with Greg MacPherson and Karen Demers of the USDA Rural Development office in Concord, which supplied grant money to complete the center, were also there to congratulate Consentino, Gallant, all the volunteers from CHAT and the community as well.
"This is the most beautiful project. It's just a success story that's unbelievable, and we were happy to be a part of it," said Demers.
Plans for programs at the Tilton Senior Center are now being completed, and will be posted soon on the CHAT Web site, which can be accessed through www.tiltoncares.org. The schedule will include senior-oriented informational sessions, on line computer access, entertainment and social gatherings for residents, including, but not limited to, the towns of Tilton, Northfield, Sanbornton, Belmont and Laconia. Luncheons and other meals will also be held from time to time and the center is currently prepared to seat and service up to 40 people at a time.
"I thank everyone who helped make this senior center a reality, but I really want to truly thank the other selectmen from the bottom of my heart, too," said Consentino. "When I brought up this idea less than two years ago, they believed in me, and I'm so grateful."