By Laina Stebbins
Bath-DeWitt Connection Staff Reporter
BATH — The growing number of seniors in Bath and surrounding areas benefiting from the Bath Township Senior Center can now enjoy an improved facility, as well as look forward to future expansions.
Thanks to a number of recent upgrades and with plenty more to come, the center will be able to make it even easier for area seniors to come together and meet, take part in a healthy, low-cost meal, and even have a little fun. The proposed improvements and expansions are crucial in order for the senior center to properly meet the needs of a rising senior population.
“We’re rather busting at the seams here,” said Program Coordinator Nancy Hoyland.”We’ve expanded our kitchen so we can do much more here, but we need to expand our facility.”
January 2016 marked the completion of the senior center’s facility remodel, along with a major expansion of the kitchen facility. This kitchen remodel was crucial; before it, the center had to work with a tiny oven and no dishwasher.
“Last year we saw such a large increase [in members] that the equipment we had in the kitchen wasn’t capable of handling the number of people we were needing to feed everyday,” said Judith Gardi, a member of Bath’s Senior Services Advisory Board.
The senior center provides healthy, homemade food with locally-sourced ingredients every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for $3. Both residents and non-residents can purchase meals.
“We provide them a hot, nutritious meal … for a very low cost,” said Hoyland.
America’s “baby boomer” generation is aging, which translates to an increased number of senior citizens. As a result, services related to aging can be essential resources in a community. The proposed expansion is a way in which the senior center is planning ahead for Bath’s future senior population.
“Right now, 45 percent of homeowners in Bath are over 55. Two years ago, it was 37 percent,” said Gardi. “You can see that the population is aging … in order to meet that bubble, we have to expand our center in some way.”
As a Senior Services Advisory Board member, Gardi has been pushing the Bath Charter Township Board to consider building expansions for the center in 2016. Gardi has also stated the senior center’s need for an increase in staff, an increase in meals and programs in order to operate five days a week instead of three, and several other proposals.
A section in the 2016-2020 Bath Strategic Plan states that a portion of the 2016 budget will be allocated to “increased staffing to to accommodate being open three days per week to five days per week starting in summer 2016.” Hoyland says this will likely begin in July.
At the township level, the Senior Services Advisory Board “requested $67,000 to put in a community kitchen at the senior center,” said Gardi. “We were approved by the board for 50,000. We … applied for a Community Impact Grant, and were able to get a $55,000 grant.”
“We were able to match that with our township money and put in a beautiful kitchen and expand our bathrooms so they are universally accessible,” said Gardi.
The Bath Charter Township Senior Center not only acts as a place for seniors to make connections in their community, but it also provides crucial resources to area seniors to little or no cost. This includes the loaning out of home care equipment and the provision of low-cost meals three days a week.
This also includes sources of recreation for the seniors. The Bath Township Senior Center offers bingo, card games, line dancing, euchre tournaments, Zumba Gold classes, and other activities on a weekly basis.
With continuing facility improvements along with increased meals, services, and programs, the Bath Township Senior Center will likely be a crucial resource for seniors in the community for years to come.