EASTHAMPTON, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- The Western Mass News Surprise Squad is back and bigger than ever.

Since the start of this pandemic, we’ve been reporting on the mental and physical toll this virus has taken on our seniors.

However, oftentimes forgotten are those who are supporting our elders, providing them comfort and guidance.

In this edition, the Surprise Squad paid a visit to a local council on aging.

"They all step in and do what is necessary,” said Joanne Metcalf, who nominated the Easthampton Council on Aging.

In a time when they are needed most, members of the Easthampton Council on Aging steps up. They're led by a fellow named Brendan Rogers

"He's the best boss I’ve ever had,” said Hank Senecal.

Jenna Ferguson added, "It's great to have someone like that to follow."

Metcalf explained, "I've seen him drive the vans through town. I've seen him in the grocery store, doing grocery shopping for the seniors who are still afraid to come out, so just seeing someone at your door with groceries or whatever, I think the seniors really appreciate that."

So the Surprise Squad loaded up with gift boxes, some station swag, and a big old check made possible by our sponsor the Hyundai Dealers of Western Massachusetts.

"We luck out with a brand like Hyundai.  Hyundai has a lot of programs that reach out to the community on the national level and it's great to be able to look at a local level,” said Brian Houser with Balise Hyundai.

Carla Cosenzi with Country Hyundai added, "This is the most difficult time for seniors right now more than ever, so to be able to do something like this and to give back to them and spread a little joy in a difficult time means everything."

…And everyone loves a surprise

We arrived at the council raring to go with a whole lot of set-up before Rogers arrived.

We finished just in the nick of time as he showed up just moments later, catching us off guard.

"Thank you.  Of course, I couldn't do this without my team. We have wonderful staff who are willing to go outside of their normal job descriptions to really help our seniors, so we're very lucky to have a staff that we have and I wouldn't be able to do it without them,” Rogers said.

Gary Rome with Gary Rome Hyundai added, "We really appreciate your focus on the community.  On behalf of the Western Mass. Hyundai Dealers Association, we want to recognize you all of your hard work and your efforts that you do tirelessly, so we want to present you this check, in addition to other goodies."

Rogers told us the $500 will go directly to the council.

"I think you are a hardworking, caring person who does so much for the seniors and you're not afraid to just jump in there and help out when you can,” Metcalf said of Rogers.

Also appreciated is the rest of the crew, including receptionist Ann Longley. She told Western Mass News that in most cases, the seniors they help are just looking for a friend.

"I have found lately people want to...I call everybody every day to verify rides for the following day and I have noticed that people want to talk. I'll probably be on the phone for 5 or 10 minutes with one person. I'm not going to say 'I have to go, I have do this.'  I just let them talk and I talk with them. I think it helps. It helps me too,” Longley explained.

Rogers noted, "Well, thank you.  I really appreciate this.  This is wild. I’ve never had anything like this happen before, so thank you everybody."

If you know someone who goes above and beyond and would like to nominate them for our Surprise Squad, CLICK HERE.

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Copyright 2020 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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