I was so excited to read the article by Sven Berg in the Feb. 2 edition of the Statesman as I have been working on an article about this very same subject. Many senior centers have been struggling over the years, and even more so recently due to decreases in funding and an increase in this population with limited resources.
The Mountain Home Senior Center (501c3) began in 1984 with a donation of two used buildings and some kitchen equipment gifted from the Mountain Home Air Force Base. Many improvements have been achieved at the center over the years. This has been accomplished by some grants, memberships, donations, fundraisers and memorials and through the generous support of our community.
We now are close to averaging 2,000 meals per month, which includes our congregate and home-delivered meals, and we must replace some very aging equipment and do extensive remodeling to bring our kitchen up to current codes. We also see an average of 1,670 people per month at our center. This includes meals and all activities and services that most senior centers offer.
Our senior center is managed by a 10-person elected board. We have six paid part-time employees — which include three cooks, a janitor, a bus driver, a coordinator and numerous volunteers. Our $229,000 budget is achieved from donations, small grants, fundraisers, etc. plus by support from our city and county. State and federal funding help support our food program.
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At this time, we have a chance to obtain a $150,000 grant from the Department of Commerce for our kitchen if we can raise an additional $60,000-$70,000 to add to our portion by March 1. We have worked hard to reach this goal and may not make it, but we are deeply committed to try to continue to provide our seniors with this much-needed and appreciated service.
This is our story, but I would hope that all would think about seniors and senior centers in their own areas, listen to their stories and offer support, guidance and time. Chances are that someday we all may be using or needing these important services.
Connie Cruser has lived in Mountain Home for 52 years. She is a former Elmore County commissioner and serves on the Mountain Home Senior Center Board and St. Luke’s Elmore Community Board and Foundation Board.