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Seniors push for center expansion

by Jeff Munson

A drop in the bucket may one day overflow, as the saying goes, but for a group of senior citizens, many drops are needed to stop an overflow of a different kind.

The group hopes recent donations by the Washoe Tribe and the Carson Valley Eldercare Coalition will jump-start support for an addition to the Douglas County senior center, which is too small to meet the needs of a growing elderly population.

In making the donation, Coalition Chairman Bert Lackenbauer and the Washoe Tribe challenged other clubs and organizations in the Carson Valley to raise enough money to expand the senior center.

“We are challenging all of the other organizations, service clubs and real estate agents in the county to match us with the hopes that one day we will have a new place for seniors,” Lackenbauer said.

The tribe and the coalition each donated $500 to the cause.

The Eldercare Coalition is an offshoot of the RSVP program based in Carson City. It provides activities and assistance for senior citizens, including the meals-on-wheels program.

Hoping to raise public awareness about the need for more room at the center, Garry den Heyer, chairman of the senior citizens advisory board, said the center is running out of space.

“We’re at that point now where something needs to be done,” den Heyer said of the center, which can hold 126 people. “It’s a very small space. People are practically falling over each other during lunch time.”

The center provides a gathering place for Douglas County seniors. Many come for the companionship if they are widowed and for many, it’s the only time and place where they can have a hot meal.

“Where do they go when the place that’s there for them has to turn them away?” den Heyer asked.

The senior population countywide is growing, not declining and something must be done to accommodate the increase, Lackenbauer said.

“What happens when there is no more room and dozens of people who are lonely and hungry are told they can’t come in?” Lackenbauer asked.

While county officials have said they would ultimately like to have a community center that would be big enough to house the senior program, den Heyer and Lackenbauer believe the wait would be too long.

“We really don’t think it’s fair to have to wait five or six years before something gets built by the county,” den Heyer said. “We think that an addition of about 2,000 feet of space is reasonable enough to maintain over the next few years until the county decides what it wants to do.”

The cost of building the addition would run around $100,000, den Heyer estimates. Right now there is about $7,000 in the building fund.

To raise the money, the Senior Citizens Advisory Board and the Eldercare Coalition will work jointly on pitching service clubs and community members to make donations. Coin cans have been placed throughout the county to help in the fund-raising effort. So far the cans have brought in a few hundred dollars, he said.

“Every little bit, even down to the pennies, counts,” den Heyer said.

They also hope the building industry will donate time and labor. But they want the bulk of funding for an expansion to come from Douglas County.

“The county commissioners have been there. They know what it’s like during lunchtime,” den Heyer said.

To contribute to the senior building fund or for more information, contact den Heyer at 265-2812 or Lackenbauer at 267-4145.

Details

To contribute to the senior building fund or for more information, contact den Heyer at 265-2812 or Lackenbauer at 267-4145.