By ALANE MASONNews-Herald Staff
CADIZ – The local Harrison County Council on Aging (Senior Center), located at 120 N. Main St. Cadiz, originally opened its doors in 1975. Over the last 38 years they have dutifully provided aid, meals, and activities for seniors across Harrison County.
On average, the 11 employees go to 50 homes of elderly members each week for the homemaker program, which helps with in their general clean up and assistance. They also take around 80 trips a month to doctor’s appointments in a 50-mile radius, and bring fresh produce, canned goods and other necessities over 3,180 times a year to low-income seniors homes. Every day there are free meals provided not only to local seniors but also to anyone who needs a hot plate. While donations are appreciated, they are not mandatory. Friday nights from 6-9:30 p.m. the seniors enjoy live Country music and are given a hearty home-cooked dinner cooked by the employees. There is no discrimination in age here at the Senior Center, for 80 percent of the participants in meals and activities such as bingo, are seniors but it is clear that anyone is welcome.
The employees here are devoted to caring for the seniors. However, they are facing a hurdle that determines whether their doors remain open, and it all comes down to funding. The Harrison County Senior Center is not alone. Michael Turner, President of the Ohio Association of Senior Centers, explained that directors of centers across Ohio are reporting financial strains. Along with paying employees and providing food for the seniors, the Main St. Senior Center is trying to scrounge up enough funds to repair the roofing and brickwork of their building, which was built around 1885.
Unlike many for-profit senior centers across the country, The Harrison Senior Center does not have membership fees. In fact, there is no requirement for the seniors who utilize the provided services to pay any money at all. All extra compensation is donation-based. While this is a great help to the members, it has become a financial strain on this small town organization.
Over 90 percent of this local center’s funding comes directly from a county levy that is passed every five years. The levy is called the .75 Renewal Levy and will appear on ballots in the upcoming November elections. This levy is the recognition that the senior centers are a good thing for the community and worthy of being funded.
Senior centers across Ohio have lost over half of their original funding over the past six years.
In the state of Ohio, funding has decreased from approximately $13 million down to $5 million, which has caused major roadblocks in keeping these centers open. Thus far, there aren’t many other options that have been identified to fund these operations.
Essentially, if the levy passes, the Harrison County Council on Aging will continue to exist. If it fails, they will have to close almost immediately. The struggling center not only needs the community’s support during the elections but donations and contributions as well.
Pictured above are a few regulars enjoying each other’s company on a Thursday afternoon at the Senior Center. From left to right: Ben Burgins, Janette Burgins, Margaret White, Orville Cunningham, Virginia Cunningham, Gertie McFarland, Suzanne Bauer.
NH photo/ALANE MASON
More information and a list of events scheduled for the Senior Center can be found in this weeks print edition of the Harrison News-Herald.