WESTFIELD — Tina Gorman isn’t running the city’s Senior Center anymore, but she’s still busy and still involved with many of the programs she shepherded during her term as executive director.

After Michael Squindo was hired for the top job at the Westfield Council on Aging earlier this year, Gorman took the new role of “special projects coordinator.” Recently, her new role means she’s been dealing with two grant applications, the Voice of Experience newsletter, the Senior Citizen Property Tax Work-Off Program and AARP’s tax assistance program.

“We have already scheduled more than 300 tax appointments and processed 137 tax returns at no cost to our seniors,” she said in an email. “There is a tremendous amount of behind-the-scenes work involved in coordinating and organizing that particular program.”

Tina Gorman shows her enthusiasm during the “Cops for a Cause” luncheon in September 2023, during her last year as Senior Center director in Westfield.
Reminder Publishing photo by Marc St. Onge

That’s not even half of her responsibilities. She also works on objectives related to the Volunteer Companion Program for housebound elders; the “Retire the Fire!” fire safety campaign; COA support groups; local LGBT seniors; workshops, training and presentations; Senior Center programming on Channel 15; and the Senior Options health and wellness fair.

Overall, “The special projects coordinator is responsible for planning, developing, organizing, publicizing, implementing, directing, and evaluating the Council on Aging Department’s special, clinical or grant-funded services and projects,” Gorman said.

This position came into being, Gorman said, because despite the size of the city’s senior population, the Westfield COA lacked an assistant director.

“Westfield has one of the largest senior populations in Western Massachusetts, with more than 10,000 adults aged 60-plus in the city,” she said. “Yet, we are one of the few larger councils on aging without an assistant director. Therefore, the responsibilities of the executive director were enormous and incredibly time-consuming.”

The new position, she said, allows the coordinator to focus better on each specific program, and allows the executive director to focus more on leading the department as a whole.

Gorman came up with the idea for the new role during her time as executive director, alongside Robert Bishop, the city’s former personnel director. Funding for the position was included in the fiscal year 2023 budget, which was approved by the City Council in June 2022. The office space only became available in October 2023, when renovations to the Senior Center second floor were complete.

Although the new position was her idea, Gorman said she didn’t consider herself a lock for the job. Hiring began after Squindo took over in September 2023, and Gorman had to apply like any other candidate. She began work at her new job in December 2023.

The new position comes with a pay cut, because it has fewer responsibilities and less hours. Gorman said she’s budgeted to work only 25 hours per week in her new role.

Asked if there was anything she missed about being executive director, Gorman said, “It can be a challenge to have less say in the direction in which the department is moving. That said, it is also exciting to witness a new director with fresh eyes and a different perspective make changes that align with his vision.”

Gorman said hopes that being able to focus on individual initiatives means she can add to the Retire the Fire! program, create a new support group, and get started on this year’s Senior Options, which will return after a COVID-19 pandemic hiatus.