Sara Wool was lucky enough to have both sets of grandparents around when she was young. “I grew up with all my grandparents being an integral part of my life,” she recalls fondly.
That background helped Wool when she was hired by what was previously called the Champlain Valley Agency on Aging.
Once on board as director of development and communications, Wool was responsible for spreading the word that the organization would now be known as Age Well.
A third-generation Vermonter, Wool graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in secondary education. She taught high school in South Burlington and then moved to Boston to join a company that placed teachers around the world. Returning to Vermont in 2005, she got a job as director of development at the Boys and Girls Club of Burlington.
Although she thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to work on behalf of children, after five years Wool switched demographics to join the staff of a senior living group. When it was sold to an out-of-state company, she joined Age Well.
“I miss the interaction of kids from the Boys and Girls Club but I feel the same way about seniors as I did about the kids,” she said. “There is a huge opportunity in Vermont to do the right thing for the aging demographic. This job provides lots of challenges and lots of opportunities.”
Wool describes Age Well as a network of services for seniors who wish to stay in their homes rather than move to a community living center. Age Well provides care coordination which can include transportation, fuel assistance, meals, and ensuring that seniors are taking their medications.
Age Well is probably best known for Meals on Wheels and they are the largest providers of that service in the state. They also oversee a community meals program for those 60 and over which allows them to eat with others at restaurants or in community settings for a reduced price.
Wool oversees fundraising initiatives, as well as communications and marketing. Under the old name, many people thought the organization was state-run rather than a non-profit and Wool said she believes the new name helps people understand the difference and also see that aging is something to be embraced rather than feared.
Wool and her husband Gabe Rodriguez moved to their house in Shelburne two years ago. “I had two kids late in life so we decided to bite the bullet and begin mowing the lawn and plowing the driveway,” she said of their transition to a single-family home. Her parents live nearby in Charlotte and she wanted to be close to them. With kids ages 4 and 6, weekend life revolves around their activities.
Wool notes that she has reunited with many of her friends from high school and college, many of whom left Vermont but then returned.
“I’m in a place in life where I feel content,” she said. “I’ve gone back to my roots and I’m doing a job that feels really good. Life isn’t easy, but I think living in Vermont makes it a little easier.”