Senior centers in Sedgwick, Butler and Harvey counties could receive a boost from money sent to Kansas as part of the America Rescue Plan Act, the $1.9 trillion federal stimulus package passed last year in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We think we will be able to use some of those ARPA dollars in help senior centers across our region,” said Annette Graham, who serves both as executive director of the Central Plans Area Agency on Aging and director of the Sedgwick County Department on Aging. Graham made her comment during a meeting of the Sedgwick County Commission last month.
The pandemic has disproportionately affected the physical and mental health of older residents, Graham said, and improvements to the centers can help address that. Like other public facilities, centers shut down at the beginning of the pandemic and then opened with restrictions before returning to more normal operations.
“They can be that first line of defense at the neighborhood level,” Graham said. “We want them to be inviting, welcoming and to have those resources they need so that people will come back. Because we know (residents) have been slow to come out of that isolation.”
In a later interview, Graham said she does not know how much money will be available or an exact time frame for it to be distrubuted. There are 35 seniors in the three-county area.