Senior centers do world of good

Posted: Tuesday, October 07, 2003

I am writing to express my appreciation to all senior center directors, administrative staff and other staff personnel.

Much has been said about other organizations and recognizing all they do for our community, that is most certainly a great service to everyone and a blessing.

However, I would like you to take a journey with me as we look at our senior center directors and staff. It takes very dedicated, skilled and people-friendly persons to work at senior centers, and on the Kenai Peninsula we have all of the above. These caring people are looking out for the senior population on a 24-7 agenda.

The directors apply for grants, attend numerous meetings and submit monthly menus to the state department nutritionist for approval. They plan and hold fund-raisers for the centers, interact with peninsula directors at quarterly meetings, check on special dietary meals for home-bound clients, as well as the needs for those attending lunch at the center Monday-Friday. The homebound clients also receive meals for the weekend.

This year the directors and staff are having to work with major state funding cutbacks while still trying to maintain quality of service.

They help complete all sorts of forms for seniors, application for services, plan activities for seniors, health care workshops, and if they can't answer your questions on services, they will find someone who can.

When applying for grants, it's burning the midnight oil until all deadlines have been met, while adjusting to the reorganization of the state granting agencies and rewriting grants on new forms as required by the state.

It's a common occurrence to share a holiday meal with a senior who is alone at the holiday, and they know everyone by their first name.

Seniors are taken to doctor, dentist and therapy appointments, not to mention shopping. Seniors also are picked up to come to lunch at the center and taken home.

Senior center directors and staff always find time to participate in community activities and also with seniors. These dedicated people do not know what an eight-hour-a-day job is.

Senior centers have always been so giving to me, I just wanted to share the caring with everyone. To all the agencies which help the senior centers, a wonderful "thank you, and God bless."

Local agencies helped this year and it helped with the budget shortfall but not in total. In recent meetings which I attended, it is expected the shortfall in budgets will continue from the state next year.

In closing, nowhere but Alaska would you find communities and senior centers dedicated to helping others in so many ways.

If you haven't visited a senior center, take the time to do so. It's a great experience. If you have a few hours to spare, offer to volunteer, you will find it very rewarding. Stop by your senior center and pick up a newsletter. It covers activities and events for the center.

My sincere thanks and appreciation to all directors, administrative staff and personnel at all the Kenai Peninsula senior centers. You are great!

Lenore E. Jones has lived in Alaska for 43 years, mostly in the Kenai-Soldotna area. She volunteers at both the Kenai and Soldotna senior centers and is on the executive board for the Soldotna Senior Center.

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