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The worst-kept secret in town — the Saranac Lake Adult Center

April 10, 2012
By Deborah J. Donaldson, Gina Norton and Shirley Pickreign , Saranac Lake Adult Center

What - worst-kept secret? You gotta be kidding. Well, it's true. How many folks in the surrounding towns and the village really know what we do and what we are about?

Do you?

If you have the preconception that the center is not for you, pay us a visit and judge for yourself! Not only is the center a home away from home for many seniors; we offer a variety of activities and programs. If you just want to relax with good friends over a game of cards or cup of coffee, well, pull up a chair! Being with friends is the best part of coming to the center!

The Adult Center is a service organization which is focused on enriching the lives of our areas seniors by providing support, services and opportunities for older adults to remain as healthy and independent as possible, in their own homes and in their own communities. This population will only continue to grow as Boomers (now constituting more than two-thirds of the 50-plus population) come of age and we continue to have a longer life expectancy.

At no cost, our center provides space for the Association of Senior Citizens in Franklin County employees. The director is on site Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and is responsible for providing services to the citizens of the village of Saranac Lake and the towns of Brighton, Franklin, Harrietstown, North Elba through Ray Brook, St. Armand and Santa Clara. The director is also responsible for the association employees who provide lunch and the Meals-on-Wheels program: cook, assistant cook and the custodian, as well as the many volunteers who deliver the MOWs. The center itself has no paid employees. Lunch is available to area seniors weekdays for a suggested donation of $2. Please call before 9 a.m. to make reservations.

Seniors may call or drop in for assistance with many programs, including but not limited to HEAP (Home Energy Assistance Program), furnace repair or replacement, home-delivered meals, Medicare and Medicaid - Parts A, B and D - weatherization, EmPower energy audits, AARP tax and driver safety programs, nutrition programs, medical and local transportation, health insurance counseling advocacy, farmer's market program, LifeLine, social services issues and referrals ranging from Alzheimer's to veterans' services.

Another part of the director's responsibility is recruiting and maintaining a volunteer base. These senior volunteers are the same folks who volunteer their time at the local hospital, nursing homes, manning the polls during election time, working at church functions, etc. In other words, they are the backbone of our center and community.

When Franklin County Public Transportation was looking for space for their local dispatcher in the area, the center gave them, at no cost, space for their office. The seniors who volunteer at the center are given free transportation to and from the center on the days that they volunteer.

Wellness for seniors is a major concern due to our long, cold winters. When the opportunity arose, the Board of Directors applied for and received the Small Cities grant to provide a wellness center. Our beautiful facility gives seniors the opportunity not only to improve their physical health but a place to socialize, for a nominal cost of $25 annually. It has been proven that active seniors who maintain a healthier lifestyle live longer and have less medical costs.

The center's monthly newspaper, the Senior Outlook, keeps members apprised of programs and events for the coming month. Inside, the seniors find a variety of articles on nutrition, local events, travel such as cruises, monthly menus and activities, and regular contributions by Deborah Donaldson and Ron Keough.

On Monday nights the center holds bingo at 7 p.m. Each month there is a special night when attendees donate food to an area food pantry. The revenue generated from bingo helps to pay our utility bills.

When the association stopped providing a monthly night meal, the board decided to pick up the ball and do it themselves. On the third Wednesday of each month, the board hosts a full-course meal for area seniors, including a salad bar and dessert, for $5.

In planning for the future of the center, the Board of Directors understood that, in time, the monies to support the center may not be as readily available from the various municipalities. So - we took a leap and borrowed $175,000 to renovate the basement to provide rental space. Soon after, the Franklin County Public Health Department was looking for space to rent, and we signed a five-year contract with them. Franklin County Social Services and Probation Department also occupy space at the center. In 2018 the loan will be paid off, and the monies derived from the rental space will be available to help support the center, making it less dependent on the various municipalities.

The Third Age Adult Day Service started their program at the center in February. The board felt strongly this program was needed in the area and agreed to provide the space for them to start. Third Age staff are committed to providing quality care to participants while giving caregivers the respite that they need. Once this program grows, they will look for a larger home.

In the past, the Adult Center has relied upon funding from all the area towns and the village. It has made a goal of becoming more self-sufficient in the foreseeable future. With any plan, it takes time and patience to reach its goal.

We are thankful for all contributions, for they have allowed us to look to the future, provide low to no cost programs and activities for area seniors, and a central location for them to come to.

So now you know the worst-kept secret!



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