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San Jacinto News Times - Local News

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Local senior center hits hard times


San Jacinto News-Times editor

COLDSPRING — San Jacinto County Senior Citizens enjoyed a Christmas lunch at their center last Friday, knowing it could be the last Christmas celebration in the center as it is today. In the 1970's senior centers were funded by the government under the Texas Department on Aging administered through the Deep East Texas Area Agency on Aging (AAA). In Texas there are 27 senior centers operated in the 12-county region of Deep East Texas, of which the San Jacinto County Senior Citizen's Center is a member. Senior centers are local neighborhood facilities providing support services of recreational and group activities for the older person. Locally, the AAA funds two programs addressing the nutritional needs of Deep East Texas residents. Those are congregate meals and home delivered meals. In February 1975, land was purchased in Coldspring by the San Jacinto County Senior Center, and the center has operated since that time under the wings of San Jacinto County and partially funded by Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG). Other funding comes from the county, some from a resale shop operated by volunteers at the center and from donations from local individuals, businesses and organizations. Beginning in January, the City of Coldspring has approved a $5,000 annual donation to the center. A goal of the Senior Citizen Center is to provide hot meals five days a week at local facilities. Individuals age 60 and older and their spouses are eligible for the meals and senior center programs such as health assessments, nutrition education, physical fitness, advocacy, creative arts, legal clinics, volunteer opportunities, information and referral and games. Another goal is to prepare and deliver hot nutritious meals to homebound disabled and elderly people in the county. The home delivered meals program provides a nutritious noon meal and allows individuals to remain at home avoiding isolation and allow them more independence to remain in their own homes. However, those goals are being jeopardized primarily through a cut in funding from DETCOG. According to Rayfield Jefferson, director of the San Jacinto County Senior Citizen Center, DETCOG has cut San Jacinto County's funding for its senior center by $30,000 for 2015. "This reduces our funding by $2,500 each month," Jefferson said. "We have two months operating expenses in our Jefferson said, "But at the rate finances are going we may have enough funds to last through February 2015 and then something different will have to be done if more funding is not secured." Jefferson said he recently sent out donation requests to all the churches in the county. "We received one donation of $250," Jefferson said. "There are many citizens of San Jacinto County that are not aware that "Meals on Wheels" is an important outreach program of the center. Meals on Wheels serve those members of our community who may not be able to have a nutritious meal on a daily basis," said Charline Smith, president of the San Jacinto County Senior Citizen Board of Directors. "The original intent of the program was to furnish these citizens with a hot meal six days a week; however, because of these funding reductions, this has been revised to deliveries twice per week, which means that they receive two hot meals and four frozen meals that they must prepare," Smith said. "Many of the members of the center come every day because this is their life. Some have lost their spouse and find comfort at the center. Also members and nonmembers come daily for lunch and some come just for the fellowship," Smith said. "You do not have to be a member to eat at the center. A cost of $5 is a suggested donation price for members of the senior center that can afford to pay for their meals. The public is welcome to enjoy lunch daily for a $7 donation. You will need to call 936-653-4175 before 10:30 a.m. to reserve a spot for lunch," Smith said. The center provides an exercise program on Monday, Wednesday and Friday by "Silver Sneakers" which offers a fun exercise program designed exclusively for older adults. the program helps to pursue fitness goals on your own terms and provides guidance as well as convenient group exercise classes to help older adults improve general fitness, strength, flexibility and walking ability, according to Smith. The center has a resale shop, operated by volunteers, which is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. "You would be surprised at the things you will find there. We have women's, men's and children's clothing, including infants. We have household items, furniture and many, many other items. It's a great place to shop," Smith said. "There are a lot of shoppers that come most every day and call it 'The Mall of Coldspring.' The public is encouraged to donate useful items to be resold. Proceeds from the resale shop help provide meals and support our services," Smith said. "The center would greatly appreciate any donation, and would love for you to become a member. Please ask your churches and civic organizations to consider us when discussing your outreach programs. We are open daily from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. We are diagonally across from the courthouse and our website is www.seniorcitizens-sjc.org. Keep up to date on what's happening by visiting this website often," Smith said.


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