Happy New Year!

The salutation will be heard throughout the month of January. A new year brings hope for better things to come. This year we are faced with a challenging economy and everyone is worried about it.

Our older generation has weathered this storm before. Back in the days of the Depression, everyone was in the same boat and people relied on their friends and community to help each other through difficult times. Today, we are fortunate to have social-service agencies and places like the Dracut Council on Aging to help. We can assist you with fuel assistance, income-tax preparation, your health-insurance needs and volunteer programs that help with your property taxes.

In December, we were faced with a weather emergency and most of Dracut was without power. Many residents were taken to a shelter to ensure that they were safe and warm. An emergency can happen at any time so be prepared. An emergency kit with basic needs and supplies can make the difference between having what you need during the emergency or going without. A battery-operated radio is one of the best ways to stay informed during a disaster or severe weather when the TV, phones and electricity are out.

If your telephone is bundled with your cable company and electricity is out, you may not be able to use your phone. Cell phones and land phones with a different telephone carrier will work. Cordless phones also may not work when there’s a power failure. The town of Dracut’s office of emergency management connect CTY will notify you by phone, broadcast on the TV and radio (WCAP-980AM) if there’s an emergency, and tell you what to do if you need help.

If you have a disability and require assistance, you may fill out a form with the Dracut Board of Health and be put on a 911 disability list so that emergency response teams are aware that you may need help. Forms are also available at the senior center. Please take some time to prepare for a disaster or any kind of emergency.

* AARP Income Tax Preparation starts on Feb. 6. Call to make your appointment.

* The Senior Tax Rebate program begins this month. The veterans breakfast will be held Jan. 27.

* The monthly director’s coffee hour is on Jan. 22 at 10 a.m. The topic this month is “How to Prepare for a Disaster or Emergency.” Please join us as we begin a new year of hope and remember, you’re not too old to dream.

“Wine gets better with age” at the Dracut Council on Aging, the best place in town.

Joyce Shadan is the executive director of the Dracut Council on Aging.