The North Bend Eagle

 

Senior Center hurting, closing a possibility

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 1/6/21

The North Bend Area Senior Center is hurting, another victim of the pandemic.
Seniors eating at the center are down, rentals are nil and donations are not coming in.

“No one came in to eat today (Jan. 4),” Senior Center manager Sherry Raymond said. “Many are afraid to go out because of the pandemic.”

Raymond said overall, numbers are down. She does have four to seven domino players who play regularly and stay to eat on Tuesdays. Four bridge players are there Thursdays and Fridays and they stay to eat.

“We used to average 10 people in-house a day,” Raymond said, “and four to six delivered meals.”

The noon meals at the center are supported by Easter Nebraska Office on Aging. ENOA pays to rent the facility for the meals, the manager’s wages and reimburses $5 per meal for those over 60 eating there and for meals delivered.

Raymond does monthly paperwork to get the reimbursements. ENOA bills the people who receive the delivered meals. For December this added up to $1,700 for meals, $1,200 for manager’s wages and $500 for renting the Senior Center for the meals.

Utilities, cooking and delivery people cost come out of the Senior Center’s pocket. The cook is paid $32 a day, the delivery people $10 a day.
Raymond says she watches her grocery bill closely, trying to keep it down. For January she bought $720 of groceries from a food service. She spends between $100 to $150 a week locally on fresh vegetables, bread and milk.
In looking back at the paperwork, Raymond said they served 4,195 meals (in house and delivered) in 2019. In 2020 that number was 3,196.

Raymond said ENOA has been hurting also. They used to have a staff of 12, but are now down to three.

The Senior Center is a corporation originally formed in 1991 when it signed a contract with ENOA for meals. It started in St. Charles Parish Center, but in 1992 the building of the present Senior Center started with 222 people donating time and labor. The center opened in July 1994. Since Jan. 1998 the meals served at the center have been cooked there.

The building remains a separate entity from the ENOA meals served, that is why ENOA pays rent.

The flood of 2019 did not reach the center. But the Pandemic of 2020 has.

“We used to be booked every weekend for November and December for family celebrations,” Raymond said. “In May we’d be booked Friday, Saturdays and Sunday for graduation celebrations.”

In the North Bend History Book (published 2006, page 412) it says that the center was averaging 40 meals a day (in-house and delivered). At Thanksgiving 2005, there were 114 in attendance. In 2019 there were 75 meals served at the special dinner served a few weeks before Thanksgiving.

Raymond had plans to have a celebration in 2019 for the 25th anniversary of the opening the facility at 340 East 10th Street in North Bend. But it was canceled.

Also canceled this year was the soup supper, the annual fund raiser of the center.

“We are hurting,” Raymond said.

The center is governed by a board with Duane Emanuel, president, Carol Musiel, vice president, Lorraine Kavan, sec/treas, Lavonne Ladehoff, Steve Raymond and Robert Soukup.

“Something has got to get back to normal,” Kavan said. “It’s killing us. The board has already said that if things don’t turn around we might have to close our doors.”

Anyone wanting to donate can send a check to the North Bend Senior Center, P.O. Box 592, North Bend, NE 68649 or drop it off at the center.

“The Senior Center is a vital part of the North Bend community,” Raymond said. “It would be a shame to close it.”

 

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