Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Middletown's Senior Center- Possible Solutions

There are a number of changes that could happen to the Senior Center resulting in improved services. It would have to be done within the framework of the Charter. In other words, you must have a Center, although nothing states that it must be in the town. The Director must be appointed by the Town Admin. & confirmed by the Council; however, there is nothing to stop a Senior Board from making recommendations. The Director would still be responsible for developing, administering, & budgeting for the Center, but there is nothing to prevent the Board from also taking part in this. The Director does not have to be full-time and there is nothing to prevent a "sharing" of personnel & services with other communities. There is, in fact, nothing stating the Council must fund any of this.

The Center could become a partner with the Newport King Center. It could establish its own non-profit organization (as it once did) to administer & fund the Center with the town providing a stipend. In other words, you could hand over the entire center to its members.

The Center should always be striving towards best practices as written by the National Assos. of Senior Centers. We need a lot more partnerships with community organizations & resources; such as, non-profits, YMCA, Newport Hospital, CCCRI, & Salve Regina. Our group needs some actual goals & plan for achieving them. A process of self-assessment, purpose and plan for governance, professional fiscal management, and methods and programs designed to connect seniors with their needs, their families, and caregivers. There are a lot of models out there.

We have a number of nusing homes and connections could be made here. It's a small island with three independent senior centers. How necessary or desirable is this?

Perhaps it's time for the Council to appoint a commission with the goal of having our two major outreach programs- the center & the library- operate not only more efficiently, but better serving the public. We are the only island town operating both of these venues through the town government process rather than as private non-profits with local and state support stipends. In tough economic times with more pressure on local governmental groups, this may well be the time & the place to cast another eye on these services just as we do the schools.

However, there is one thing for certain. Until locals start complaining loudly & often, you'll see few changes, merely budget cuts.

BTW, there is no Council rep for the Senior Center.
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