Brookline Community Aging Network


Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is the Brookline Community Aging Network?

Brookline sky - Photo by John Seay
Put simply, BrooklineCAN is the answer to how to make Brookline a better place to grow old.

BrooklineCAN is a town-wide initiative focused on maintaining a high quality of life for older residents in Brookline through excellence in education, programs, and services. It is a collaboration among residents of all ages, the Council on Aging, businesses, town departments, and nonprofits to 1) increase opportunities for seniors to engage in the town’s social, cultural, and civic life; and 2) build supports that enable independent living.

From retail discounts to a referral program for vetted household service providers to Envision Your Future educational programs to volunteer and job connections, BrooklineCAN works with and for you to enhance the experience of growing older in Brookline.

Q: Why Should I Join BrooklineCAN?

If you want to help your neighbors, help yourself, and help your town, then you should join BrooklineCAN. It’s all about making Brookline an even better place to live for everyone. Joining BrooklineCAN gives you access to information-sharing to find the best plumbers, electricians, handymen, and more; discounts at local businesses and restaurants; services for those over 60 (such as shopping, cooking, driving, dog-walking); regular updates on key services, classes, and performances; educational forums on how to make living at home easier and safer; and volunteer work

Q: How does BrooklineCAN relate to other organizations serving seniors in Brookline?

The Brookline Community Aging Network (BrooklineCAN) is a membership organization concerned with Brookline as a good place for older people to live. BrooklineCAN is a collaboration involving Brookline residents, the Brookline Council on Aging, and several non-profit organizations that serve seniors in Brookline.

The Livable Community Advocacy Committee is one of several BrooklineCAN committees. It works to influence policy on issues of interest to seniors and others.

The Brookline Age-Friendly City Initiative is a multi-dimensional, multi-year commitment by the Town of Brookline to become more age-friendly. The Age-Friendly City initiative is part of the World Health Organiztion’s Network of age-friendly cities and communities. The Age-Friendly City initiative is coordinated by a committee appointed by the Brookline Select Board . The Town joined the Age-Friendly City network with encouragement and support from BrooklineCAN’s Livable Community Advocacy committee.

The Council on Aging is a Town of Brookline municipal department, founded in 1955, that runs the Senior Center. Though they're often seen to be one organization today, the COA was providing services to Brookline seniors for 46 years before the senior center was opened.

The Brookline Multi-Service Senior Center Corporation, which was founded in 1977, is the non-profit 501(c)(3) sister organization that raises money for the Senior Center and the COA, above and beyond the Town of Brookline's contribution. Donations to BrooklineCAN go through the BMSSCC, which makes them tax deductible.

The Brookline Senior Center is the building, opened in 2001, where professional staff and volunteers provide a wide range of programs and services in health, learning, arts, socialization, nutrition, and recreation.

Q: Who is eligible to join BrooklineCAN?

Anyone can join BrooklineCAN. Individual members are asked to make an annual donation of $35 per person to help pay for administrative expenses. We ask organizations to contribute with donations, sponsorships, and in-kind services. We encourage membership of all ages.

BrooklineCAN encourages the participation of individuals and organizations in fulfilling our mission. We offer a wide range of volunteer opportunities to contribute talents and tap into interests that help maintain and grow the organization.

Q: How is BrooklineCAN funded? Who runs BrooklineCAN?

BrooklineCAN does not receive any public funds. It operates under the auspices of the Council on Aging which is contributing in-kind human and administrative resources. The non- profit (501 3 C) arm of the Council – Brookline Multi-Service Senior Center Corporation – is the fiduciary agent for funding. All donations are tax deductible.

Our most valuable commodity is YOU! We will only be able to grow and provide services with volunteer efforts.

A steering committee of residents and organizational representatives is co-chaired by Frank Caro, a resident of Brookline and former chair of the UMass Boston Gerontology Program, and Ruthann Dobek, executive director of the Brookline Senior Center.

Q. What makes BrooklineCAN unique? How is it different from the Village Model – i.e. organizations like Beacon Hill Village?

The “village” movement is beneficial to older residents in many of the communities where they have been established. Many charge hundreds of dollars to belong. We have an opportunity to create a “village” with a unique Brookline twist.

A principle objective of BrooklineCAN is to be as inclusive and as diverse as possible in its membership. Only a small annual donation is required for membership.We want to reach out and involve as many of the 10,000 older adults in Brookline as we can. We capitalize on the strengths of the Brookline Senior Center and the wealth of local resources (e.g,. transportation, educational and cultural riches, and proximity to medical complexes).

We will connect our members with services and programs that enable them to remain independent and those providers will charge a fee for services.