The Senior Center of Finney County is what its executive director, Barbara Jensen, refers to as a “one-stop shop.”
“If you’re a senior citizen and you need help with a wide variety of things, that’s what we’re here for,” Jensen said. “Here, we have a nice big facility, a big staff. We can meet a lot of people’s needs, and that’s what we try to do.”
The senior center is one of 29 senior centers in the state recently named as a 2014 Focal Point by the Southwest Kansas Area on Aging (SWKAAA). It’s something that Jensen is proud of, but she adds that it’s nothing new.
“We’ve been a Focal Point for as long as I’ve worked here,” Jensen, who has worked at the center for more than 30 years. “But it’s something that distinguishes us from those centers that for whatever reason, because of their small community or the small amount of funding they receive, can only offer limited things.”
Jensen said having the Focal Point designation also helps taxpayers see that their tax dollars are being used wisely and productively.
David Geist, executive director of SWKAAA, said that is one reason the review and selection process is in place.
“The needs of older adults in the community continue to change, and this is a good measure of the center’s ability to stay current with these demands,” Geist said. “Additionally, in this time of economic constraints, elected officials and taxpayers are demanding a greater accountability of how their aging mill levy funds are being spent. This review process gives them a good snap shot of what they are getting.”
According to a press release from SWKAAA, to be considered a Focal Point center, a senior center must meet minimum standards in 10 different program areas, including the following: center management, compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, supportive services offered, community involvement, continuing educational programs, in-home service, and program expansion and enhancement.
The Senior Center of Finney County, in addition to serving lunch every week day, offers a wide variety of programs, classes, activities and other resources aimed at serving the elderly population in the area.
Classes and programs include those in art, computer, defensive driving, and falling prevention.
“We started a new one called ‘Stepping on: Fall Prevention.’ Falling is a serious issue for seniors. Many times, if you fall, and you break something, you’re just never the same, so we want to be proactive and prevent falls, so we do that training. In fact, I just learned Monday that we’ve received two new grants to offer that same training,” Jensen said.
The center also provides counseling for seniors on topics such as Medicare, Social Security and retirement, and also points them in the direction of other resources they can use.
“If someone comes in and needs help paying for their prescription drugs, we can access some government-funded opportunities for them. If someone wants to apply for food stamps, I can get the application for them and help them fill it out. I don’t make the determination, but I can help them with the process,” Jensen said. “So that’s what we mean by kind of a one-stop shop.”
The center, which is open 8 am to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, also features pool tables and offers activities like bridge, pinochle and pitch card games.
Through Finney County Transit, which is located next door to the senior center, the elderly also can access transportation, and the home delivery service, Meals on Wheels, is administered through the senior center.
“We have a contract with St. Catherine Hospital where we do the Meals on Wheels, so that’s also Monday through Friday, with provisions for weekend meals,” Jensen said.
She said that as much as possible, they try to encourage seniors to get out of their homes and come to the center to socialize and interact with others.
“Every once in awhile, we’ll have someone come in and say, ‘My doctor told me I had to come down here and eat lunch.’ And pretty soon, they’re down here hanging out all the time. It gives them a reason to get up, get dressed and move,” Jensen said.
In addition to being funded by tax dollars, the senior center and Finney County Transit are funded by the county, city of Garden City, Kansas Department of Transportation, grants and donations.
“We receive lots and lots of donations, People are very generous, and we appreciate that,” Jensen said.
The other 29 centers in southwestern Kansas designated as Focal Point centers for 2014 include: Ashland Senior Center, Beam Senior Center in Meade, Burdett Senior Center, Dodge City Senior Center, Ellinwood Senior Center, Fowler Senior Center, Go Getter Senior Center in Ransom, Grant County Senior Center in Ulysses, Gray County Over 50 in Cimarron, Great Bend Senior Center, Hamilton County VIP, Inc. in Syracuse, Jetmore Senior Center, JOY Center in Dighton, Kearny County Senior Center in Lakin, Kismet Senior Center, Liberal Senior Center, Leisure Time Center in Medicine Lodge, Melvin O. Kuder Senior Center in Tribune, Ness City Senior Center, Pratt Senior Center, Sandyland Shepherd’s Center in St. John, Satanta Aging Program, Scott City VIP, Inc., Spearville Senior Center, Stafford Senior Center, Sunflower Senior Center in St. John, VIP Senior Center in Macksville and Wichita County Senior Center in Leoti.