55 and Alive center for seniors to close this June

Published 7:00 am Thursday, April 12, 2018

After three years of serving the county’s senior citizens, the 55 and Alive Senior Activity Center on Hustonville Road is closing at the end of June, and the Boyle County Senior Citizens Center is hoping to fill the gaps.

In an email, Troy Roberts, executive director of the Bluegrass Community Action Partnership (BCAP) which runs the 55 and Alive senior citizens program, said the board decided in February not to reapply for Title III and Homecare Services federal funding which helped support its services. Those services include Meals on Wheels, activities, education services, transportation, meals at the center and home care.

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The board has decided not to apply for federal funds and to close the facility because, “We could never gather enough local support and this went way above just funding. Financially, the only local support we gained was from Heart of Kentucky United Way, Kentucky Utilities and a couple of anonymous donors, and to them we are extremely grateful,” Roberts said. “This was a difficult decision but we felt that if we had not gained the support needed in three years from local government we never would.”

Following the news that BCAP would not submit a bid for the Title III and Homecare funding, Ben Guerrant, executive director of the Danville-Boyle County Senior Citizens Center: The Gathering Place, said he put in a bid in late March and is anticipating being granted the award by the end of May. 

Guerrant said the senior citizens center had received the Title III and Homecare funding before BCAP was awarded the money for its 55 and Alive program in 2015.

Roberts said, “Whoever is awarded the bid, we are happy to assist with the transition.”

For the past three years, Guerrant said The Gathering Place has been sustained by the City of Danville and the Boyle County Fiscal Court, along with support from other organizations. He said funding from the local governments has neither decreased nor increased.

If the Senior Citizens Center is awarded the Title III funding, it will again take over the Meals on Wheels program, delivering one hot meal five days a week to seniors at their homes. They will also be able to prepare and serve more meals at the center and increase activities, services and transportation for their clients, Guerrant said.

When the Title III funding was taken away three years ago, Guerrant said it forced the Senior Citizens Center to take a good, hard internal look at how they could continue helping the senior citizens with less money. 

“The challenge was to figure out how to do more with less,” he said.

He said they redefined and rebranded themselves, “to provide services to serve those who were used to coming here. We don’t just give up on our seniors. We persevered.”

When the budget tightened, they continued looking for ways to cut costs, such as working with The Shepherd’s House clients to grow a garden to help supplement their food supply.

He added that the senior citizens are like his extended family and The Gathering Place is their home away from home.

Guerrant said the need for increased senior citizens services is growing every year. For example, in 2017, The Gathering Place served 4,120 meals at the center which was a 26.5 percent increase over 2016.

The senior center also provided 5,835 rides for seniors in trips to doctors, pharmacies and grocery stores, which was about a 13 percent increase over 2016.

If The Senior Citizens Center is awarded the Title III funds again, it would help the citizen expand those services, Guerrant said.

“It’s important for senior citizens to maintain their independence and be active which in turn makes them healthier and happier,” he said.