Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

April 27, 2014

Time spent at the senior center

GREENUP — Sandy Mendez understands that many times when people grow older they sort of slip through the cracks.

The needs of older residents often go unaddressed for a variety of reasons, and with nearly 22 years of experience at the Greenup County Senior Center, she has become intimately aware of those needs.

Some benefit from the lunches  the center serves Monday through Friday and the fact that it operates two vans for transportation. For some seniors, this is also the only real interaction they have with the world outside of their own homes.

The center is an activity hub for seniors as well, Mendez said. “We have all types of games for them to play. We have Wii, a pool table and corn hole boards. They can play bingo, we have crafts and try to incorporate all sorts of exercise programs into the week’s activities.

“We also encourage them to walk as much as they can, and, of course, we have the Friday night dance. We are up to around 120 people that show up for the dance.”

Centers like the one in Greenup operate in each of the FIVCO counties and are funded by FIVCO. Transportation is contracted by FIVCO through Northeast Area Development to transport seniors (60 and older) to and from the center. Northeast also furnishes the meals at the center and the homebound meals delivered to seniors unable to physically come to the center.

Mendez is the director and the only actual employee of FIVCO, but she said the she and her husband, Richard, with Dr. Dante and Vicki Oreta, have been involved from the beginning with the background aspects of the center. When the center moved from downtown Greenup to its current location in the Applegate Shopping Plaza, for instance, all the renovations needed to make it viable for the seniors’ needs were done by them. Walls were built, a kitchen was set up and bathrooms plumbed, among other things, essentially for free, because the four of them shared a passion to help with the needs of seniors.

That passion and willingness to do more for a group of people society typically overlooks shows in the way the center’s dance club is administered. The dance club is a separate entity that isn’t connected to FIVCO; it pays its own insurance, furnishes its own equipment, etc. But all the money generated, minus basic operating expenses, is funneled back into the center for the seniors’ benefit in the form of coffee, cups, plates and the snacks  available during the day before the meal. The dance club also pays for Internet access, crafts and other things the patrons enjoy.

Mendez stresses the needs for centers like the one she operates in the community.

“The people who ride our buses don’t drive. Our buses are the way they get their medicine, groceries, and other things. We are their contact with the outside world. They might need to see Dr. Oreta, or go to Pathways, or see Helping Hands (all of which are in close proximity to the Center) and we just take them, because we are their only transportation.

“Sometimes elderly people have no family members that live close to them that they can call for help with daily needs. So we become their family.”


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