Tag Archives: Vernonia senior center

More Changes for Senior Center

SeniorCenter-webThe Vernonia Senior Center has adjusted their plans once again.

When their old location at 446 Bridge Street was scheduled to be demolished, the Seniors moved their thrift store to the Learning Center at 939 Bridge Street.  The newly named “Bridge Street Bargains” is now up and running and is loaded with merchandise for the thrifty shopper.

The Senior office is also on site at the new Bridge Street location.  Community Action Team’s  Karen Miller is available in the office on Mondays to assist seniors with their issues and concerns.

The big change for the Seniors is the relocation of the lunchtime meal program to the American Legion Hall which shares space with the Vernonia Cares Food Bank at 627 Adams Avenue.  Catered meals, which are delivered and warmed on site, will be served on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, beginning early in April.

“Since the Food Bank is open Tuesday and Thursday, this seems like a good fit and will make heating the meals easier for the cook, Wendy West,” said Sandy Welch, Executive Director of Vernonia Cares as well as the Secretary for the Senior Center Board of Directors

According to Welch Friday afternoon games will also be relocated to the Legion Hall.

Senior Center Board Progresses

The year 2015 will see several changes for the Vernonia Senior Center.

March 2015, due to FEMA requirements, will begin the demolition of their current facility. The purple building is required to be totally demolished by March 31, 2015. There is not another option. This has forced the Senior Center Board to seek funding for a new building. However, there will be a lag between demolition of the old facility and construction of a new one. The projected site will relocate their new facility in a safer location, above flood danger. This projected site will relocate both the Senior Center and Vernonia Cares Food Bank.

The twelve person Vernonia Senior Center Board, through frequent meetings and decisions, looked toward temporary relocation for both their Meal Program and their Thrift Shop. Leases are not yet signed but the new temporary locations are very close to becoming secured.

The Senior Board attended a Training Workshop in October which had been fully funded through a grant. During this work session, the Board learned and discussed proper procedure as they walk through their multiple decision-making processes now and as they plan for the future.

The Board reevaluated their budget earlier this year which led to the necessity to provide in-house meals for patrons on Monday, Wednesday and Friday only. Home-delivered meals continue each weekday; no change or reduction was made to this part of the meal program. Patrons may also purchase entrée meals, at a reasonable cost, to take with them as their meal for Tuesday or Thursday.  Read More

Seniors Look for Answers Before Construction of New Center

The Vernonia Senior Center Board of Directors is getting ready to take the first steps towards construction of their new joint facility with the Vernonia Cares Food Bank.  Yet there are several questions that need to be answered before they move forward.  

The issues the Seniors must sort through over the next several months include securing all needed funding for construction, planning which existing and new programs will be included at the new facility; the size and design of the new facility; an interim plan to provide services between demolition of their old building and completion of construction of the new facility; and how to create an operations budget that allows the center to function and be financially successful.

The Vernonia Senior Center has historically provided congregate meals for their members during lunch time on weekdays. The Center also provides social activities for members as well as some health and social services.  A Thrift Store inside the facility takes donations and is a main source of funding for the operation of the center.  The hope among Senior Center members, the Board and other supporters is that a brand new facility will enliven the membership base and bring more activity and usage to the center.

On August 18, 2014 the Vernonia City Council held a hearing to determine whether to apply for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and to consider potential projects the City might apply for.  Several members of the community spoke in favor of the City making an application on behalf of the Vernonia Senior Center for construction of a new Senior Center facility.

CDBG funds were previously used to construct the Vernonia Community Learning Center and  can be used for public facility and housing improvements, including infrastructure projects.  CDBG funds are primarily designed to assist persons with low and moderate incomes.

The Vernonia Senior Center is required to move from their current location following the 2007 Flood and will receive a buyout from FEMA of approximately $150,000.  Demolition of the old building is expected to cost the Seniors roughly $50,000, leaving the Senior Board with just $100,000 toward the project budget. Demolition of the old building must be completed by March 31, 2015.  The maximum amount the City can apply for from CDBG is $2 million.

At the Senior Center Board meeting on August 8, 2014, the Board estimated the price for the new construction to be $2.1 million.  Simultaneously, the Seniors and Food Bank must raise funds to cover street and utility development that are off-site as a separate project.  The development team estimates that this project and some of the non-CDBG eligible costs will require $500,000 to $700,000 more in charitable support. The current plans for the new building include a full kitchen and dining/social area, multi-purpose space as well as space for the Vernonia Cares Food Bank.  Vernonia Cares Director Sandy Welch, who also serves on the Senior Center Board as Secretary, says Vernonia Cares has been setting aside funds on a monthly basis for several years and that her organization will contribute those funds to the new construction.

Jim Tierney of Community Action Team (CAT) is serving as the Senior Center/Food Bank Project Development Manager.  According to Tierney the earliest that construction on the new senior facility could begin would be May of 2015.  The Seniors are considering several options for ways to serve their community members in the interim, including using space in a local church facility to serve meals.  They are also considering options to house their Thrift Store, the main source of income for the organization.

If the Seniors accept CDBG funds they will be limited in who they can serve for the first five years once the building is operational. The CDBG funds come with age limit and income restrictions which would in turn require the Thrift Store to be housed off-site for the first five to six years.

Project Manager Tierney says the project team will work closely with the architect hired by the City during the CDBG project to make sure the current project size and scope are  warranted. “The final architecture work must be done using an architect hired by the City after the CDBG award.  At that time we will have the expert assistance needed to more carefully look at design efficiencies,”  says Tierney.  “Using the design process to look for potential savings is critical to success. It is a commitment we owe to our funders and a hedge against surprises during the public bidding process.”  Tierney went on to say that squeezing the project scope as much as possible also reduces fundraising demands as well as long term operating costs. Tierney said the project would be making applications to several philanthropic organizations in the near future to fill  gaps in the project budget.

At the August 8 Senior Center Board meeting, the Board held a lengthy discussion about their current financial situation.  According to financial records the Senior Center is losing money at a rate of over $1,000 per month.  While the Thrift Store has recently increased profits, it remains unable to offset the cost of operating the meals program and the rest of the Center.  Later at that same meeting the Board voted to cut meal service from five days to three days per week in order to reduce costs. Senior Center Budget Committee member Tobie Finzel says the Seniors are also actively researching other successful senior centers around the region and country looking for other operational models they might try to mirror.

Tierney says he believes the Senior Center Board can find solutions to their cash flow problem and develop a successful operational model.  “They know they have a problem and are serious about taking steps to address the issue,” said Tierney.  “Adjusting their business plan and practices is a job that only the Seniors can do because they are the ones that must carry it out.”

The Senior Center is Not Just for Seniors

The Vernonia Senior Center offers all kinds of services and programs for seniors, from help with meals, heath care assistance, exercise classes, entertainment and more.  It’s a place for senior citizens to gather with their friends, get answers to questions, and hear about what’s happening around town.

But the Vernonia Senior Center isn’t just for senior citizens.  And some recent changes are emphasizing that even more.

Lily Harrison is the new manager of the Vernonia Senior Center Thrift Store.

Lily Harrison is the new manager of the Vernonia Senior Center Thrift Store.

Lila Harrison is the new manager of the Senior Center Thrift Store and Sheila Kruger is the new cook in the kitchen.  Both ladies have made some positive changes and are hoping to attract more customers who will utilize the services the Senior Center provides and that are available to the entire community.

“I think sometimes people are inhibited to come in here because they think it’s just for old people,” said Harrison during a recent visit to the Senior Center. “And it is for older people.  But it’s also here for everyone in the community to use. It can be a really great resource for people.  I would like to see people get in the habit of coming down and know what is going on here.”

One good thing about shopping or eating at the Senior Center is that the money you spend there helps support senior center activities.  Your support helps pay the utilities and keep the doors open. Read More

Senior Center Prepares for Annual Plant Sale

The Vernonia Senior Center is preparing for their Annual Plant Sale, scheduled to be held on May 31st and June 1st , starting at 9:00 AM.

The Plant Sale is the biggest fundraiser for the Senior Center and helps fund daily operations and their Meals on Wheels program.

“Many people believe that the Thrift Shop that we run makes us self-sufficient,” says  Senior Center President Jack Harvey.  “And we do get some funding from the government, but neither of  those sources is enough to cover our costs.”

According to Harvey, this will be the tenth year the Seniors have held the sale.

The plants that the seniors will sell are all donated for the cause.  Local gardeners, including many from the OSU Extension Service Master Gardener program, will start plants this spring that they will donate.  Woodstock Nursery and Jim Dandy Farm Stand  in Manning will also donate some leftover plants.  “Tami at Woodstock Nursery and May at Jim Dandy has always donated to us,” says Harvey.  In the past the Seniors have also received donations of plants from Trader Joe’s on 185th in Beaverton.

Harvey says the Senior Center will gladly accept donations from anyone that wants to help out and has some extra plants.  And the sale isn’t just limited to plants.  Harvey says the sale will also include furniture, clothing and other items.

The Vernonia Senior Center Plant Sale is a great opportunity for the community to support this vibrant and necessary facility.  Please mark your calendar and plan on stopping by to see what they have for sale.

Rose Avenue Project Gains Momentum

The Vernonia City Council held a workshop on Friday February 1, 2013 to discuss the proposed Rose Avenue Project, which would help relocate three social service facilities within the Vernonia community.

The Council met with representatives from the Vernonia Health Board, the Vernonia Senior Center, and the Vernonia Cares Food Bank.  All three organizations suffered damage in the 2007 flood and are interested in moving their facilities out of the flood  zone.

The City of Vernonia controls a piece of property between Rose and Weed Avenues at Cougar Street, next to the new West Oregon Electric Cooperative headquarters that is large enough to house all three facilities that are considering relocating. Read More