By Charles Collier, The Denmark News
In defiance of popular rumors, the Denmark Senior Center will not be closing.
It is true that federal, state, county and local budgets are being cut but the Denmark Senior Center will be staying open. Organizers are concerned, however that if more use of the Center is not seen it could face cuts to programs such as its meal delivery service.
The Senior Center operates through the Aging and Disabled Resource Center (ADRC) of Brown County which provides activities and weekly meal delivery for local senior residents. Despite popular perception, ADRC is a non-profit organization and not a government entity.
Activities range from connecting seniors with students via a pen-pal program, physical fitness and nutritional informational speeches, footcare appointments, group field trips and several more. Participation in these activities can help stall depression and continue a sense of connectedness to society in one’s later years.
Brown County ADRC relies on state and federal grants for 80% ($4,677,330) of its operating revenue while 5% ($300,951) is sourced from private donations.
Director Devon Christianson said cuts proposed under President Trump’s federal budget to the Older Americans Act, Senior Aid Program and Medicaid will have a tremendous impact on the organization’s operations.
“As any respectable organization would do we are always evaluating our effect and how to maximize our government dollars,” Christianson said, “We’re not shutting [the Center] down or cutting it out, but we have to be as effective as we can and be sure we’re reaching the people we need to reach.”
In the countywide budget for 2017, the meal delivery service spanning 11 sites required 7.5% of ADRC spending; nearly a half-million dollars. Meals provided to Denmark are utilized by two regular customers according to Christianson, signaling a need to realign offerings to the desires of the community.
Mary Knoll, the new Rural Director for the Denmark site said the low participation is a concern, but that she and the ADRC Board of Directors are considering multiple options to create community at the Senior Center by responding to Denmark’s unique characteristics.
“Many of our elderly still drive and live on farms. They have access to food and are known for their good cooking, so they’re not going to come into town for a meal, “ Knoll said.
Christianson said she has been in contact with Denmark’s village government, school district, area churches, attendants and her board of directors to determine the, “best investments.”
Population trends show that between 2010 and 2016, Brown County’s percentage of residents over 65-years-of-age rose 14%. That proportion is expected to rise above 20% in the county by 2035.
“Denmark is a strong and proud community which plays a strong role in socialization aspects,” Christianson said, adding ADRC’s main focus is addressing malnutrition.
Knoll is seeking to capitalize on Denmark’s strengths and is eager to hear from the community.
“We would love to hear from anyone that has any other ideas that we could implement,” Knoll said.
If you have any questions, thoughts or new ideas on what the Senior Center could implement in the future, contact Knoll at 920-863-8097.