NEW MADISON — The goal of building a senior center in Darke County is getting closer to becoming a reality, and committee members shared the progress of the project during the New Madison Public Library’s Fourth Tuesday event this week.
Lindsey Gehret offered a presentation on behalf of the Darke County Senior Outreach Committee, which is spearheading the efforts to open a senior center in Darke County.
Gehret said the committee’s mission is “to provide resources for citizens age 55 and older to remain healthy and independent now and in the future,” and the vision is “to enrich the lives of older adults in the community.”
“The following goals are laid out in our bylaws to help us accomplish this:
“To develop a common setting for individuals to gather and socialize
“To provide transportation to foster independence
“To be the center of education for community services and resources
“To promote health and wellness
“To collaborate with community congregate meal providers
“To organize social activities and events
“To encourage participation in community volunteer and employment opportunities.”
The group distributed a survey in the fall of 2013 to determine the areas that would interest most potential users of a senior center. The greatest areas of interest were meals, games, senior assistance programs, trips, travel and transportation, fitness/health, entertainment, social room, computer lab/training, classroom/library, and crafts.
Gehret said the group has been working on setting up as a 501(c)(3) organization, but while that is in process, the United Way has offered to allow the Senior Outreach to “piggyback” on its 501(c)(3) status to solicit tax-deductible donations to get the project moving forward. Several other funding options also are being explored, including grants and, eventually, levy support.
A temporary location for the senior center has been found, in the Springhill building owned by Rest Haven. The building, located on Spring Street in Greenville, has previously housed a daycare center, and later a retail store, serving most recently as activity space for a church. It is equipped with kitchen space for meals as well as adequate space for activities.
Gehret said the only shortcoming of the site is limited parking, which they hope to overcome through possible arrangements with nearby locations and/or potentially some kind of shuttle service.
A priority also will be setting up transportation arrangements for all of the Darke County communities outside of Greenville, so it is truly a countywide venture.
“It’s very important to get into that ‘Darke County’ mentality,” Gehret said. “It’s not just Greenville.”
Gehret noted that the purpose of the temporary site was to get people using the center and show that there is a local need for such a facility.
She said a longer term goal is to possibly share facilities with Wayne Industries. The committee has been working with the Board of Developmental Disabilities and also with the Department of Job and Family Services, discussing integrated services, programs and activities that could be of benefit to seniors, youth and the developmentally disabled population.
If such a partnership could be firmly established, Gehret said they would attempt to seek a kind of joint humanitarian levy that would provide funding for programs and a facility that would be of benefit not only for seniors but also for those otherwise challenged or at-risk.
Though Gehret described the plan as “still in its infancy or toddler stages,” she said the committee expects that the temporary site could be up and running within a year.
Potential volunteers or anyone interested in a senior center opening in Darke County is welcome to attend the committee’s monthly meetings, which are the third Wednesday of every month at 10 a.m. at Comprehensive Health Network (the location may change). Anyone who cannot attend a meeting or would like more information may contact Gehret at 937-548-1138 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach Rachel Lloyd at 937-569-4354 or on Twitter @RachelLloydGDA. For more features, visit www.dailyadvocate.com or find us on Facebook under “Advocate 360.”