(BLOOMINGTON) – As May signals Older Americans Month, the City of Bloomington is pleased to announce that it will partner with the Area 10 Agency on Aging and IU Health Bloomington – Alzheimer’s Resource Service to open a senior center this year. The partners are currently securing funding to launch a pilot program offering social and recreational opportunities for area seniors in an existing, centrally located facility.
At its allocation hearing Monday, May 13, the Jack Hopkins Social Service Funding Committee recommended approving Area 10’s application for $9,775 to launch the initiative. The City’s Parks and Recreation Department, Community and Family Resources Department, and IU Health Bloomington – Alzheimer’s Resource Service have committed additional funds and in-kind materials to support the center’s launch during the summer of 2019. Plans for the center include providing part-time staffing and programming in an existing, currently unoccupied property in a convenient location. After the pilot period, the partners will evaluate the center’s success to determine future plans.
“Area 10 hosts a vibrant senior community center for Monroe and Owen counties, but we hear all the time how folks want what we offer in Ellettsville to be available in Bloomington,” said Area 10 Agency on Aging Chief Executive Officer Chris Myers. “The partnership that has formed between the City, IU Health, and Area 10 reflects the genuine interest that exists among community leaders to find creative ways to meet this need. From my many community conversations, I have no doubt that if we build it, they will come!”
The partnering organizations currently offer a range of programming to support the social and health needs of the area’s older adults. More than 700 seniors pursue sports and recreational activities daily at the City’s Twin Lakes Recreation Center (TLRC). Additionally, the Parks and Recreation Department has for more than forty years hosted a 50+ Expo, showcasing services, screenings, opportunities, and products geared toward the area’s seniors. Area 10’s Endwright Center has a membership of 350 at the Ellettsville facility, where older adults have the opportunity to connect with one another in music groups, art classes, and book clubs, among other programs. Usage of the Endwright Center by members and non-members totaled almost 16,000 last year. IU Health Bloomington – Alzheimer’s Resource Service provides additional support through its educational programs, support groups, and a resource library.
The center will be the city’s first new facility dedicated to senior programming since declining use of the Bloomington Adult Community Center, formerly the Older Americans Center, prompted the Parks department to close the facility in 2009 and redirect funds to its senior-oriented programming at TLRC.
As it navigates trends in senior programming, the City elicits recommendations from its Commission on Aging. “The idea of identifying non-traditional venues for senior programming is well tested throughout the US and, while only a beginning, helps expand programming for seniors in an innovative and exciting way,” said Phil Stafford, chair of the commission. The advisory body serves as a catalyst for improving public awareness of the senior and aging community and works in collaboration with diverse community members and organizations to build bridges, open dialogue, celebrate accomplishments, encourage programming, and explore issues and concerns of older adults. According to Stafford, the commission has also expressed interest in the development of an intergenerational community center that would support seniors’ unique needs while showcasing their contributions to and promoting their interaction with the community as a whole.
“Bloomington’s senior population is active and growing, as are ideas about how best to serve the needs of residents as we age,” said Mayor John Hamilton. “We are fortunate to have the expertise and support of our partners and our commissioners in the development of senior services and facilities.”
The Bloomington Common Council votes June 12 on the Jack Hopkins Committee’s recommendations.