Senior Citizens Advisory Board Chairman Garry den Heyer asked a question this week about the senior center that has no easy answer:
“Where do they go when the place that’s there for them has to turn them away?” he asked.
It’s one of those questions whose answer is easier to say than do.
For the past several months, senior center supporters have been collecting donations in hopes of raising enough to expand the facility. They could wait until the county has the money, but den Heyer and others say that might be too long, considering the increases in the number of people using the center during the past few years.
The senior center got a $1,000 boost this week from the Washoe Tribe and the Carson Valley Elder Care Coalition, whose officers hope their donations will be matched by other clubs and people. The donations coincide with the county’s annual budget approval process, which has revealed that while the county is fiscally healthy this year, the future may tell a different story.
That’s why the issue of senior services needs to be addressed. Already, the center is crowded. Wait 10 years, or even five, and people will already be falling through the cracks – or rather, pushed outside to wait for a turn to go in.
There’s never a perfect time to spend public money expanding government services. There are, however, opportunities to plan ahead and lower long-term costs, and paying for a larger senior center that will give people hot meals, a place to go and people to see is one of those opportunities. The senior center officials are right to try to raise their own money, but the county should also step up – sooner, not later.