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Area Agency on Aging recognizes Focal Point Centers
Great Bend, Ellinwood centers recognized
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Community members enjoy stew for lunch, Friday at the Great Bend Senior Center. Great Bend and Ellinwood senior centers have been designated 2018 Focal Point Centers by the SouthWest Kansas Area Agency on Aging. - photo by Susan Thacker

Senior centers in Great Bend and Ellinwood were among 25 such centers from across southwest Kansas to be recognized and designated 2018 Focal Point Centers by the SouthWest Kansas Area Agency on Aging (SWKAAA), according to Rick Schaffer, executive director. These centers were recognized for the programs and services that were provided Oct. 1, 2017, through Sept. 30, 2018.

A Focal Point Center is a highly visible facility where anyone can obtain information and access to services for elderly individuals. To a family caregiver and older Kansans, it is a well known, accessible place to turn to for information, services in the community and social opportunities.

This past week, Director Rosy Tomlin had the Great Bend Senior Center decorated for Christmas. Due to the holiday, the center is closed until Wednesday. It will also be closed New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, Tomlin said.

Tomlin arrives at work around 5 a.m. on weekdays and begins scheduling the public transportation coordinated by the Senior Center. People start to arrive by 8 a.m. and some spend a good part of the day there, she said. There are usually dozens of people there for lunch; for the Christmas celebration on Dec. 13, 133 people ate lunch and stayed for drawings and music by the Great Bend High School Madrigals choir.

The Great Bend Senior Center is a place to learn.

“The Recreation Center coordinates with us,” Tomlin said, noting the Great Bend Recreation Commission offers exercise classes tailored for seniors. The Cottonwood Extension office provides educational programs as well. Some of the most popular programs have provided information about Medicare prescription plans. 

The center is also a place to play and make friends. “We play dominos twice a week and Canasta twice a week and pitch on Wednesday nights,” Tomlin said. “On Tuesdays we have coffee and doughnuts.” 

To be considered for a Focal Point by SWKAAA, a senior center had to meet minimum standards in 10 different program areas. Outreach to the community, center management, supportive services offered by the center, and the center’s involvement in the community were a few of the areas that were reviewed by SWKAAA staff during the yearly on-site visit.

Tomlin said she tries to steer seniors to agencies that can help if they have questions. “If I don’t know, I’ll find out,” she said.

“The needs of older adults in the community continue to change,” according to Schaffer, “and this is a good measure of the center’s ability to stay current with these demands. Additionally, in this time of economic constraints, elected officials and taxpayers are demanding a greater accountability of how their aging mill levy funds are being spent. This review process gives them a good snapshot of what they are getting.”

Other area senior centers named as Focal Point Centers are: Burdett Senior Center; Go Getters, Ransom; Leisure Years Center of Ness City; Sandyland Shephard’s Center, St. John; Sunflower Senior Center, St. John; and Stafford Senior Center.