Commentary: Funding will allow senior centers to continue vital mission

By Carolyn Fredericks

An open letter to Delaware legislators:

Delaware has just experienced the most horrendous spring I can remember, and I am sure there are still rough waters ahead for us.

But the people of Delaware, especially all those people serving on the front lines, have made a tremendous impact on the citizens of our wonderful state.

I am hoping that the Delaware legislators remember all those who have worked so hard during this crisis when they are working to balance the state budget.

Carolyn Fredericks

Still fresh in my memory is three years ago, when all nonprofits in Delaware received a 20% cut in funds. While that cut was tough, the Modern Maturity Center did not reduce staff or services to the older adults we serve. We survived by having many fundraisers, which, thankfully, the community supported!

Move forward to 2020. Once again, all nonprofits, especially senior centers, are concerned about that grant-in-aid funding! Those important grant-in-aid funds allow senior centers to keep our doors open and to provide vital services to our clients.

During this pandemic, even though the center was shut down to our clients and to fundraising events, which resulted in a tremendous loss of income, our staff did not miss one day of work. We were designated as an essential business, and our workload has actually increased since March, as follows:

  • Increased the number of Meals on Wheels by 48%, serving more than 75,600 meals in the months of March and April.
  • Packed and delivered more than 450 food boxes, each of which provide food for two weeks.
  • Provided more than 2,600 wellness checks by phone.
  • Provided food for a homeless shelter every day since April.
  • Instituted grab-and-go lunches so those seniors who still drive can stop by the center and pick up lunch.

Every service the Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities wanted us to provide, we did! It is our mission to serve. That is the task for every senior center in the state, and every senior center depends on the grant-in-aid dollars to open their doors!

A reduction or elimination of grant-in-aid will severely impact not only the Modern Maturity Center, but every nonprofit and senior center throughout the state. Many who live in your district will be impacted by any reduction in funding.

Senior centers provide vital services that allow older adults to remain in their homes and out of nursing homes. We need those important grant-in-aid funds to help us accomplish this goal.

Please do not let our senior centers become the last victim of COVID-19!

Carolyn Fredricks is President/CEO of Modern Maturity Center Inc.