Finding funds for 'family' - After losing its major fiscal sponsor, Greenwood Senior Center looks to the business community for help -

With offerings ranging from computer training and exercise classes, to support groups and hot meals, the Greenwood Senior Center has provided a variety of services to its surrounding community for the last 30 years.

But for many of its members and others in the area, the center has done much more than simply provide a service. For Jim Moore, it's a home away from home. For Louisa Jones, it's a place where she can always find a smile.

And for all its 380 members and community supporters, it's a place they are determined to keep thriving, despite a significant blow to the center's financial state.

Members of the board and Greenwood community met Thursday, June 17, to discuss a recent notice by the center's main financial sponsor, Senior Services.

The nonprofit agency, which provides a range of services to the senior citizen communities of the King County area, informed the center that its funding would be terminated. The retraction of these finances will cut the center's budget by 30 percent.

Within the last three years, the center has accumulated a budget deficit of about $43,000 and lacked adequate reserve funds to cover any of the debt. As a result, Senior Services was unable to continue providing funding to the center.

Moore, who serves as president of the center's board, said at the meeting that he and his fellow board members were committed to keeping the center open without Senior Services' support.

"It would be a tremendous loss to the community if we were to close," he said. "This is really a home away from home for many people and a place that provides friendship and companionship."


Several of those attending the meeting included members of the local business community, including Jeanne Barwick, owner of Mae's Phinney Ridge Café.

Barwick first came to the center four years ago, and will now head the recently formed fund-raising committee.

"I want to include established members and volunteers in whatever fund-raising ideas we decide to pursue," she said.

Barwick recalled how impressed she was by the computer training and exercise classes she took part in when she first came to the center. For her, the center has the potential to reach an even greater community.

"I think it's important for the center to continue for the seniors," she said, "but I also think it's a great opportunity for other age groups and business people in our community to interact with the wise, experienced members of our neighborhood."

Louisa Jones joined a watercolor painting class three years ago and has since become secretary of the center's board. What impressed her most about the center was how much support it has offered to its members, especially for those in a time of need.

Jones shared with the meeting's attendees her thoughts on one member in particular, a 100-year-old man who had taken the watercolor painting class with her. The man continued coming to the class even after his wife passed, and, Jones said, he was a person who thought of those at the center as a second family.

"How can you get that kind of support anywhere else?" Jones said. "I'm very positive about the center being able to continue, and I'll be doing the best I can to help."

Reaching out

Members of the board also expressed an interest in reaching out to non-senior members of the community, in particular the "baby boomer" generation and adults with senior citizen parents.

Carin Mack has already begun facilitating support groups geared toward adult children with concerns for senior parents, with issues including Alzheimer's disease, depression and other health concerns.

Mack provides counseling at the center at no charge and has also taught classes dealing with ethical situations.

"There is a tremendous need for good services in this area," she said. "[The center] is really, for many people, a family. People come here to get nurturing and support."

In their effort to keep the center alive, members will look to the support of the local business community, as well as increasing membership and volunteers.

The Greenwood Senior Center is open Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information on classes and activities, those interested can reach the center, at 297-0875.

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