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Senior center director briefs Danville Rotary on 2017 accomplishments

By DAVE FAIRCHILD

Danville Rotary

On a day when temperatures were barely into double digits, Ben Guerrant, executive director of the Danville-Boyle County Senior Citizens Center, hosted Danville’s Rotary Club in the senior center’s newly refurbished community room.

The Jan. 5 meeting was held in the community room to allow Rotary members an opportunity to see the results of the club’s $10,000 capital grant to refurbish the meeting room, which is available to any community organization. The capital project was needed to reverse the poor state of repair resulting from years of use since its construction in the 1990s.

Guerrant is a graduate Boyle County High School and Transylvania University. He spent 15 years as a broker in local real estate before making a career change into the non-profit sector. In his opening comments, Guerrant spoke of the pleasure he gets from the work the center does for the community’s senior citizens and the caring people who comprise the center’s staff. He thanked all of the Rotarians for their financial support and willingness to visit on a day when the temperatures were so challenging.

The senior center is housed in a 6,000-square-foot building that serves as a place where senior citizens can come to socialize; receive health care and many other services that help them give back to the community; and improve the quality of their lives. Funding for the center comes primarily from two sources: the Boyle County Fiscal Court and Danville City Commission. The program serves about 60 people a day.  

There is an adult day health care wing on the back side of the building. Adult health care includes a variety of special needs. It includes developmental disorders, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, stroke recovery, severe dementia and Alzheimer’s treatment. In some cases, the care is given to adult children of the senior, in order for them to be employed and provide for their own needs.

The senior center facility’s exercise equipment includes a treadmill, elliptical machine and a stationary bicycle. There’s a beauty shop where seniors can attend to their appearance on site. Bingo is incredibly popular. Yoga sessions encourage exercise to promote flexibility and increased muscle strength and tone.

The center has a mission project, jointly with a local church, through which seniors can sponsor a baby in an African orphanage. Participating seniors make quilts for other seniors in nursing homes and for kids at the Wilderness Trace Child Development Center.

A resident nurse is available to listen to patients’ description of their symptoms and provide symptom relief. The nursing care covers things like monitoring blood sugar, blood pressure and vital signs; and helping with medicine organization. Most of these services are very helpful for individuals that live by themselves. When necessary, the center provides vans to transport members to their health care providers, many of whom accept patients under the Medicaid program.  

Transportation is also provided to movie theaters, shopping, banks, the dry cleaners, and special outings like the Lexington Legends ballpark or the Louisville Slugger Museum. There was even a trip on a gambling boat. The center provided a little over 5,900 rides in 2017.

Every time the seniors visit the center, they can get a hot, home-cooked meal prepared that day (the only hot meal that some will get that day). In 2017, just shy of 14,000 hot meals were served. Some of the members are able to donate toward the cost of the meal, for most of the seniors, it’s free.

Asked about his sense of important future trends, Guerrant said he sees an increasing dependence on assistance for the lower-income segment of the senior population.

“The trend suggests a unique set of circumstances for groups like ours because we are going to have to figure out how to do more with less. The need for services will continue to increase, but the budget line items tend to stay about the same. So we will have to get creative in what we do. One of the ways that we’ve been able to combat some of that is by partnering with other agencies and partnering with other groups in the community.”