Seniors celebrate fresh beginnings at COA

The modern, yet welcoming exterior of the Tolles Parsons Center is as equally beautiful as the interior, which was unveiled to the public on October 2. Photos by Laura Drinan

By Laura Drinan
Hometown Weekly Reporter

After years and years in the making, the Wellesley Council on Aging (COA) finally celebrated the near completion of the Tolles Parsons Center, also known as the town seniors’ home away from home. Although the final touches were still being added, on October 2, the public was invited to visit the new space.

As visitors first entered the building, they were greeted by a cozy sitting area, soon to be completed with a notice board of upcoming events and activities. Near the entrance was the multipurpose room that featured a fully functioning kitchen. Light poured in from the skylights and wooden beams added a rustic touch to the vaulted ceiling. “Our whole goal was to just have something light, bright, and airy,” said Sheila Nugent, a COA member.

Mary Bowers stands in the café named in her honor in the new Wellesley senior center, the Tolles Parsons Center.

Mary Bowers stands in the café named in her honor in the new Wellesley senior center, the Tolles Parsons Center.

Just after the sitting area, visitors were welcomed into the Mary Bowers Café, named in honor of the driving force behind the new COA. “It’s been 11 years of a real hard struggle,” said Bowers, who was giving a tour of the space to all of the day’s visitors. “But many of us were involved. We did it, and I’m very proud of our accomplishments.” The Mary Bowers Café will be the perfect space for seniors to get together over coffee or tea and enjoy warmth of the electric fireplace.

The main level also included a reception and administration area. Upstairs were meeting rooms, a dedicated game room with billiard tables and card tables, a craft room, and a recreation space.

“It’s very inviting and it’s what the seniors deserve,” said Gayle Thieme, Director of the Wellesley Council on Aging. “It’s a home away from home where the seniors actually want to be.”

The Tolles Parsons Center features a recreation space for seniors and includes an area for group fitness classes.

The Tolles Parsons Center features a recreation space for seniors and includes an area for group fitness classes.

The seniors were previously sharing a space at the Wellesley Community Center. After Billie Tolles gifted the town $825 thousand for a new senior center, the seniors and their advocates worked tirelessly to get to the grand opening of the Tolles Parsons Center. “It was a long journey to get to where we are today, but there’s so many people who have been involved. It sounds corny,” Thieme said, “but it really does take a village.”

The natural light from every room’s large windows, the detailed ceiling work, the natural wood accents, and the comfortable textiles in each space all contribute to the beauty of the new building, which caters to a wide range of the seniors’ needs.

“They tried to make it more of a home, rather than an institution,” said Frank Pinto, a member of the COA Board of Directors. “And I think they really succeeded.”

Seniors at Wellesley’s new Tolles Parsons Center visit the space and meet with the receptionists at the senior center’s open house.

Seniors at Wellesley’s new Tolles Parsons Center visit the space and meet with the receptionists at the senior center’s open house.

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