Is Melba Valley Senior Center the only senior center struggling to make ends meet after the contract changes this year?
What are the other centers in the valley doing to make a difference and keep their doors open? Senior centers are often known as the heart of a community.
They not only provide nutritious meals for the seniors of the community, but they feed the needy with their food banks, offer support and resources for heating and utilities for the elderly, provide a place for community and gathering, transportation for weekly shopping and prescription filling and many other often unnoticed assistance.
To lose even one center could make a difference in the lives of many elderly people and possibly take away some freedoms the centers offered them.
Melba Senior Center has been hit hard this year with budget cuts and the board has been brainstorming ideas to bring in more revenue.
According to other centers, there are ways to make ends meet again, but it depends greatly on community support, dedication and changes in planning.
Three Island Senior Center in Glenns Ferry doesn’t always run in the black, but they have many resources to bring them back when they don’t, according to coordinator Toni Jones.
TISC was able to get their own direct contract with Area Aging, and in effect, cut out the middleman.
When the bidding time came, for new contracts, TISC was ready and now work independently from CCOA or other agencies.
That allows more freedom in managing finances, employees and nutrition.
Three Island Senior Center has a strong base of support from the community and has tapped into many opportunities to raise money within the community.
Fundraisers include working the entry gates at the rodeo grounds during rodeos and receiving 10 percent of gate money; chicken dinner on Sundays, inviting the entire community; Breakfast with Santa, which is free for kids and $5 for adults and brings in about 130 adults; Mardi Gras dinner, as well as cookies and coffee served at the rest areas on the major traveling holidays such as Memorial Day, Labor Day and Independence Day, during the summer.
The center also serves about 60 regular weekly lunches three days a week at the center, with all food prepared onsite.
Donations from those meals add to the bottom line.
One of the biggest helpers, according to Jones, is the calling tree.
Whenever an event is scheduled, calls go out and members are directly notified by phone of the event.
Membership fees are $10 per year, which puts them on the list and gives them a chance to vote in elections.
Many boosters, under the age of 60, are paid members just to get on the list to be notified.
Council Senior Center also has strong community support and is doing very well.
“The community has really pitched in and been more generous,” said treasurer Edith Schwartz. “We were recently given a half a beef and four turkeys.”
One big difference from Melba and Glenns Ferry is the City Council pays for the insurance on the center’s bus, used to transport home-bound seniors.
The center also receives additional funding by Adams County.
They also do the traditional fundraisers, such as a chili feed after the City Christmas tree lighting, Bingo, taco and spaghetti feeds, popcorn balls through the holidays, and their famous BBQ sandwiches during the Fourth of July and Porcupine Race.
Although Caldwell may be a bit larger of a community, they also struggle with the budget cuts.
This year, Caldwell added the silent auction instead of a bazaar. That move has brought in a lot of new funding.
The center has found that they have gotten more support from the silent auction than the in-house thrift store or bazaar.
The community also is a big supporter of the center.
“A lot of generous people bring in cash and checks, sometimes in memory of people they have lost,” said coordinator Judy Smith.
Caldwell makes money from donations on their lunch program, Bingo, dances on Friday nights, and renting the building.
The center will apply for grants a few times a year also.
The annual membership fee of $5 allows members to rent the building at half price.
Again, one of the largest contributions that bridge the gap in funding is the City of Caldwell pays for the building, phone and utilities for the center.
Overall, centers around the valley have seen many changes in funding and are all looking at ways to make ends meet.
Whether those ends come together from municipal, community or private support, these centers are an asset to the communities they are in.