In 2002, the voters of Hancock County voted to expand 50 North services by passing the first Senior Services Levy. Perhaps one of the best examples of the great need and the impact of the Levy was our Chore Services program which saw a dramatic 631% increase in service hours in the first year of levy funding. The Levy also enabled 50 North to completely withdraw from United Way funding beginning in 2005, freeing up resources for other worthy United Way programs in our community. In 2007 the voters once again resoundingly voiced their support of our work to help area seniors by approving the continuation of the Levy by a nearly 60% affirmative vote.
In 2005, under the authority of the Hancock County Probate Court, we established the Volunteer Guardianship Program to recruit, screen, train and support volunteers willing to be appointed as guardians for individuals unable to manage their own living and health concerns. This was also the year that we brought the preparation of Mobile Meals in-house. Prior to then, the meals were prepared off-site which limited the number of seniors we could serve with this program.
Lunchtime at The Senior Center made a dramatic leap when we began our own senior café program in January of 2007. Up until this time, The Senior Center simply served as the dining room for a federally funded nutrition program coordinated by PSA-3 out of Lima. Under this program, food was prepared off-site and trucked over an hour to be served in our dining room by employees for the food contractor. An average of only 10-20 people took advantage of this program. Once our Senior Café program was established, attendance at lunch sky-rocketed and we now serve an average of 80-100 people per day and it’s not unusual for that number to surpass 200 for special occasions.
The Senior Café attendance explosion had a huge impact on demand for our services. As a result of dining with us, more seniors became aware of our others services, resulting in an increase for all of our services of nearly 35% by the end of the Café’s first year.
Driven by the growing senior population, the Senior Service Levy and the popularity of The Senior Café, the demands of The Senior Center and 50 North outgrew the 6,000 square foot capacity of the Trenton Avenue property. In early 2009, after more than 30 years on at its Trenton Avenue location, 50 Northand the administrative offices for the 50 North moved into its present home located at 339 E. Melrose Avenue in Findlay. The move came as the result of a wonderful opportunity which presented itself late in 2008. The local AmVets , who were seeking to downsize, negotiated with 50 North to effect an exchange of properties (and cash to offset the difference in property values). As the year ended, an agreement was reached demonstrating to the community our dedication to fiscal responsibility and ushering in a promising future for both organizations.
In 2011, the voters of Hancock County supported the Senior Services Levy by a resounding 73% . Our levy dollars are crucial and we would not be able to continue to offer the level of service to our area seniors and community. Our programs and services include the following: Chore Services, Outreach Services, Nutritional Services (mobile meals, senior café, and grocery delivery), Fitness Center, Group Exercise Classes, Wellness Programs/Screenings, Travel, Fellowship Activities, Educational Classes, Creative Expression Classes and Enrichment opportunities.
Last year, a grant from the Community Foundation allowed The Senior Center to conduct a Facility Usage Master Plan Strategy. As a result of the study, the following recommendations were made: Consider re-naming the organization, consider renovation of east side of the facility, conduct site visits to other senior centers, relocate the current fitness enter, consider renovations of the computer lab, library, and meeting spaces, address handicapped parking areas, consider the addition of a pool/therapy pool, enhance the outdoor area, explore adult day care options, partner with other organizations to provide livable communities, consider expansion of services such as valet parking, housekeeping, chore, grow relationships with retiree groups and service groups, engage in an architectural firm with experience in designing senior centers.
A Planning and Operations Committee was formed to address the recommendations above and identified the top 5 priorities from the list of recommendations: Renaming the Senior Center, Expansion of Services, Fitness Center Relocation, Enhancement of the Outdoor area, and renovate the East side of the Facility.
Three newly formed sub-committees (Needs Identification, Expansion and Financial, and Services Evaluation) are currently addressing and exploring the top five recommendations listed above.