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Senior Matters adjusts and accommodates

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By the Senior Matters board
Special to The Sopris Sun

Senior Matters has been Carbondale’s nonprofit arm for older adult programming since 2008, when we were designated a sub-committee of the Parks and Recreation Commission and set up shop at the Third Street Center. Senior Matters’ three-year goal was to become a stably-funded, staffed, multi-room center where older people could regularly gather.

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That goal was not achieved and, over the past 14 years, relatively few groups have used Room 33 regularly. Several of the groups that did, moved elsewhere after the pandemic. The founders’ vision, “build it and they will come,” was not realized, while expenses for maintaining the room have increased over the years, currently amounting to between $15-20,000 annually. Consequently, the Senior Matters’ board has increasingly focused on fundraising, often to the detriment of its primary mission: older adult programming.

Post-pandemic, Senior Matters began regathering its constituents by emphasizing programming over place. Online offerings with Garfield County Public Libraries began in March 2021, followed later by in-person events.  Programs have included pandemic information, Carbondale’s history, attracting and supporting local birds, death and dying, gardening, age-appropriate hiking, painting classes and field trips focusing on local and migrating birds.

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Last summer, we also offered weekly drop-in afternoons with refreshments, games and conversation. In contrast to content-based programs, these drop-in events generated minimal participation. Post-pandemic, only two small older adult groups have used Room 33 for about 10 hours each week.  Although a recent survey of interested seniors indicated that dedicated gathering space was important to respondents, few seniors actually use the space we have.

It seems to the board that today’s wealthier, healthier, more educated and mobile older population would be better served by content-based programming at multiple locations. After consulting with the Parks and Recreation Department and other local organizations, the Senior Matters’ board concluded that rather than continue efforts to fund a minimally-utilized brick and mortar space, we can better fulfill our mission by emphasizing relevant programming in collaboration with other organizations in venues appropriate to each program.

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With this in mind, the board decided to vacate Room 33 effective June 1. We are already working with Parks and Recreation and other organizations to integrate our older-adult focused programs with theirs. On Arbor Day, thanks to the generosity of several older individuals, Aspen Tree Services and Susila Dharma, we arranged for and participated in the planting of nine trees at Crystal River Elementary School. We intend to continue bringing generations together and bringing meaningful programs to Carbondale’s older population. As our community evolves, so has Senior Matters. (ambien generic) We trust you will join us in this work.

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