Wow! More than 140 people, including seniors from six area towns, attended the first Senior Medical Fair sponsored by the Shirley COA.

The Shirley Middle School was filled with seniors who visited more than 45 vendor booths, heard talks given by a dozen speakers and had their eyes or hearing tested. All for free.

The fair was sponsored by grants from the following organizations: Nashoba Valley Community Healthcare Fund, CHNA9 of North Central MA and the Friends of Nashoba Valley Medical Center.

The school cafeteria team, supported by the Ayer-Shirley Middle School Student Council, provided great food for breakfast and lunch. Everyone enjoyed the meals.

The vendors covered topics important to seniors from home health care to Medicare insurance to rehabbing your body or your home. We had hospitals and clinics, nursing homes and assistive or independent living facilities all represented.

The speakers covered topics from dealing with Alzheimer's to diabetes bingo, from dealing with stroke to staying healthy with body movement or using your mind. A number of talks were given on advocacy for senior medical care and on caregiver's support services available.

Special thanks to all the volunteers who helped make this a great event. These include the Scouts from Troop 7, Venture Crew 43 from Shirley, Marcia Sullivan, Charline Oelfke, Don Parker, John and Shirley King, Missy Slattery, Carolyn McClanahan, Joyce Patton, Donna Brun, Marylou Clark, Barbara Nole, Kay Tohline, the Ayer-Shirley Lions Club and their Eyemobile.

We would also like to thank local vendors Moore's Rental and I.S.S. Printing for their cooperation and support.

Last but not least, thank you to the Ayer-Shirley school system and the middle school staff, in particular, for their support, flexibility and patience.

As you can see, it takes a village to run a good medical fair and we had great village support and thus a great fair. Hopefully, we will be able to do this again next year. I am sure that based on their experiences this year, we will have even more people attend in 2014.

JOHN OELFKE, director

Shirley COA