By Angela Barbosa
What the senior community in the Greater Danbury area and neighboring towns were longing for became a virtual reality last month with the launch of the Danbury Senior Resources (DSR) website at the Elmwood Senior Center in Danbury.
A partnership between the City of Danbury, the Department of Elderly Services and the Danbury Aging in Place Council, the new danburyseniors.org website was really needed in the community.
How did the website come to life? According to Susan M. Tomanio, City of Danbury Director of Elderly Services, after a telephone call from June Renzulli, Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation Community Services and Danbury Program Officer, revealing that the Foundation was very interested in helping seniors in Danbury by filling gaps in services, and making sure that money got channeled to programs that didn’t exist, they founded the Aging In Place (AIP) Council, a group of service providers and community leaders formed in 2012 to create a community where older adults (65+) have the opportunity to live safely, independently and with dignity in the home of their choice.
According to Renzulli, the best fit to work with the Council to build a community website to help seniors as well as service providers, was a business that is very connected to the community – SandorMax.
Julia Nable, principal and marketing strategist, founded SandorMax with her partner and creative director Zoltan Csillag ten years ago. Named after their grandfathers Sandor and Max, they develop websites and marketing material with a focus on non-profits as well as municipalities and businesses at their creative studio in Sandy Hook. Their work has been published in design publications, and they have won several prestigious awards.
“The best part of this project is seeing and being inspired by the lifestyle of the seniors as we came to the senior center. We wanted to make this website something that can bring that vitality out to the community at large,” said Nable during her introduction to the new website.
Clear, user friendly and easy to navigate were the main considerations of SandorMax while developing the site. “We don’t want anyone to get lost trying to find things,” explained Nable.
“I know this website is going to be needed by all generations, not just seniors. I know that Zoltan and I could have used this information when his mom had to go for physical therapy and we ran around from town to town trying to find a place, when if we had a resource like this we could have had all that information all in one place.”
A tool for community engagement, the DSR website will also gradually introduce the content in Portuguese and Spanish. “We have pages in Portuguese and Spanish, and with our partnership with Tribuna Newspaper, we want to make the website multicultural,” said Nable.
“One thing we did find out while we were doing this – and I work a lot in the state level on this work – this is the only website at the state level that is dedicated to senior resources for any community. So we are leader in that area,” mentioned Renzulli.
“Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation is only one of the two foundations in the state dedicated to Aging in Place. Vera Lourenço, member of the foundation’s board of directors, offered instrumental support to the AIP Council from day one. We built a website but it belongs to the community. So it is all up to you to go out there and show to your friends, family and everybody about it,” concluded Renzulli.