Senior centers are known for the education, wellness and recreation programming they offer adults 55 and older. But they may not be as well-known for the connections and support they provide. According to the Administration for Community Living, an agency of the federal government, community centers are a focal point for the delivery of many senior-related services and play an important role in helping older adults stay active and informed. For example, during the pandemic, senior centers used online programming and check-in calls to stay connected with members, provide information about COVID-19 and coordinate food and vaccines and other resources. Senior centers date back to the 1940s, with their number growing rapidly after passage of the Older Americans Act in 1965. A list of centers located in The Active Age’s distribution area can be found on page 17 of this month’s issue.
Funding for the centers varies. Funding from county Departments on Aging is one source. Some municipalities fund senior centers, providing space and staff (see table, above right). In 2022 and 2023, the Central Plains Area Agency on Aging used Older Americans Act COVID to fund renovations and technology upgrades in senior centers. Grants are available but are hard to obtain and often short-term and may require grant writing expertise that’s not always available. The success of senior centers continues to be contingent on a well-rounded and sustainable mix of funding. The accompanying table shows funding sources for area senior centers.
If you’re familiar with a local senior center, reach out and ask how you can support it. Consider volunteering to write grant applications or manage a grant-funded project. Consider helping with fundraising.
If you’re interested in becoming an advocate for older adults, email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to our advocacy list and kept up to date on local, state and federal issues.
Monica Cissell is director of communications and services for CPAAA. Call 855-200-2372 if you have questions about available resources or to learn more about your options.