Council on Aging director to step down, replacement named
Wareham will see a changing of the guard as Council on Aging director Missy Dziczek steps down, to be replaced by newcomer Sharon Rice, who was approved by the Select Board on Tuesday, Sept. 14.
According to Town Administrator Derek Sullivan, 30 people applied for the position, and the town narrowed the applicant pool down to 8 by choosing to interview applicants with related experience. Rice was the “unanimous choice,” he said.
Rice comes to Wareham from Attleboro, where she currently works as an Assistant Director of the Council on Aging.
“We are excited to have [Rice] on board,” said Sullivan. “She comes with high regards from the City of Attleboro.”
Dziczek doesn’t have an exact date for when she’ll step down, Dziczek said Thursday, as that will depend on when the new director’s first day is announced. But her and her husband’s plans for a long vacation — beginning with a trip around the country’s national parks — start in October, she said.
“I’ve got a lot of things planned,” she said. “I’m going to take six months, I’m going to go do whatever we want to do. Then I’ll probably look for another part-time position working with seniors somewhere.”
During Dziczek’s tenure with the council, she oversaw additions to the council’s program offerings, the agency’s work throughout the pandemic and the recent push to move the council to the former Decas school building.
The director is particularly proud of the council’s growing exercise programs, which she said are “wonderful.”
Between Tai Chi and chair yoga, aerobics and pickleball, and a new strength and conditioning class, seniors have their pick of any number of regular exercise activities with the council, Dziczek said.
But the fundamental reason seniors and their families gather at the center, Dziczek says, goes beyond the exercise and education.
“People just like to socialize,” she said. “To me, the main thing is socialization.”
For the as-yet-unnamed new director Dziczek had some suggested priorities: Expanding the council’s outreach to more local seniors, growing the council’s programs and, of course, continuing to advocate for a move to the Decas building.
Oftentimes, when seniors call into the Council on Aging, Dziczek said, it’s in a time of crisis. They need help figuring out health care, or they need a walker, or they’ve fallen and broken a hip.
Dziczek said she’d rather seniors knew what the council offers beforehand so that the agency is not only contacted when there’s a problem.
With the large number of senior citizens in town — more than 6,000 residents were above 65, as of the 2020 census — there’s still more outreach to do, she said.
“People need to know that we’re there,” Dziczek said. “There are a lot of great programs.”