Local Senior Center needs our help

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The Pagosa Springs Senior Center needs a new home. 

Archuleta Seniors Inc. (ASI) is trying to raise $100,000 by Aug. 1 in order to be considered for a second round of grant funding from Senate Bill 21-290. 

The organization’s first attempt at funding for a new home came back with the recommendation that ASI come to the table bringing monetary support from the community. That’s why they need you to help sweeten the pot with your donation.

The grant proposal will be for $2 million to purchase a facility, including the cost of renovations for a large dining room, food storage, offices, a large commercial kitchen and space for activities. 

For many years, the Senior Center has been housed in the Ross Aragon Community Center on Hot Springs Boulevard. The center has outgrown this location.

 The organization’s leadership has their eyes set on a 7,000-square-foot building that will suit the organization for years to come. The location of that new building has not been made public due to the need for confidentiality until a real estate deal can be structured.

Demand for Senior Center services increased 250 percent from 2014 to 2022. ASI is requesting funding through Senate Bill 21-290 via the San Juan Basin Area Agency on Aging in order to purchase a building that will offer room for the organization to accommodate the growing needs of the community.

A 2021 letter of support from the Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners reads, “A dedicated building for their programs is a significant and necessary investment in the Social Infrastructure of our community. While Archuleta County is a major long-term funder of ASI operations, there are no funding streams available for senior center infrastructure in the foreseeable future. ASI’s request directly supports the need for sustainable services and will open up more options for senior-focused nutrition programming, intergenerational social activities, and education opportunities that meet the existing and evolving needs in our area.” 

A 2021 letter signed by then-Mayor Don Volger in support of the project reads in part: “On behalf of the Town Council of the Town of Pagosa Springs, please consider this letter of support for Archuleta Seniors Inc. (ASI)’s request for capital funding under SB 21- 290. ASI has leased roughly 3,249 square feet of space in the northern wing of the Ross Aragon Community Center-the ‘senior center’-for several years. Through the rented office space, gathering area, and commercial kitchen, ASI provides key services to older adults in the Pagosa Springs/Archuleta County community. They provide prepared meals and programming through the Center, which helps seniors to have nutritious food and positive, regular social interaction.

“Since 2017, ASI has been seeking a larger facility to accommodate the growing need for their services and to expand their programming. As you are likely aware, the Archuleta County demographics show a growing trend towards an aging population and having a facility that will meet those needs into the future is important for residents and visitors. The Town has no desire to change the current rental arrangement with ASI and will support them staying at the Community Center at their current highly subsidized rental rate for as long as they like. However, we understand their goal of having an independent facility that is larger and will meet their future needs. We are happy to support them in their quest for expanded and improved space to serve our community’s seniors.”

If you’ve ever stopped by for lunch at the Community Cafe in the Senior Center, you are in for real treat. The meals are delicious and the staff is friendly, kind and accommodating. 

You can get fancier and healthier food from the Community Cafe than what we cook up at our house. This week’s menu includes delicious, healthy dishes including shrimp scampi, pulled pork sandwiches, beef Salisbury steak, King Ranch chicken and minestrone soup with pimento cheese finger sandwich.

For as long we can remember, the Senior Center has been the place for seniors in Pagosa Country to connect and stay engaged. The social hub has offered numerous activities and services for adults “age 60 and better” in our community, including playing games and sharing stories after meals. 

The only thing that has been lacking is enough space, which is why the organization is seeking a larger facility.

The National Council on Aging offered these key takeaways regarding senior centers:

“• Recognized by the Older Americans Act (OAA) as a community focal point, senior centers have become one of the most widely used services among America’s older adults.

“• Senior centers serve as a gateway to the nation’s aging network—connecting 1 million older adults to vital community services. 

“• 75% of participants visit their center 1 to 3 times per week. They spend an average of 3.3 hours per visit.

“• Approximately 70% of senior center participants are women; half of them live alone.

“• Compared with their peers, senior center participants have higher levels of health, social interaction, and life satisfaction and lower levels of income.

“• The average participant age is 75.

“• Research shows that older adults who participate in senior center programs can learn to manage and delay the onset of chronic disease and experience measurable improvements in their physical, social, spiritual, emotional, mental, and economic well-being.

“• Today’s senior centers are reinventing themselves to meet the needs and desires of the aging baby boom generation. Boomers now constitute more than two-thirds of the 50+ population. Senior centers are developing new programs and opportunities for this dynamic generation of older adults.”

Fingers crossed, we should know in mid-September if the funding request for a new facility is approved. 

In a related matter, the Senior Center is also the hub for the local Meals on Wheels program. Meals are delivered five days a week, with frozen meals provided for weekends. 

You can volunteer to deliver meals and make an impact for as little as one day a week. To volunteer, please call (970) 264-2167.

We commend ASI for its efforts in providing needed services and vital programs for our community’s seniors, their families and caregivers.

Please consider donating. You may mail your donation to: P.O. Box 3444, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147. Checks can be written to: Archuleta Seniors, Inc.

Terri Lynn Oldham House