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Why the United Way is important to Rufty-Holmes Senior Center

Rufty-Holmes Senior Center is one of 15 local agencies supported by Rowan County United Way dollars. It is one of three United Way agencies serving local older adults in our community.
Rufty-Holmes Senior Center is a nonprofit organization that provides a focal point for aging resources as well as opportunities to extend independent living and enrich the quality of life for Rowan County older adults.
A non-residential program, senior centers all across the nation provide in their own communities places where older adults come together for services and activities that reflect their experience and skills, respond to their diverse needs and interests, enhance their dignity, support their independence, and encourage their involvement in the community at large.
Rufty-Holmes Senior Center offers programs and services to Rowan County citizens aged 55 and above. Some services have program fees, but support from the United Way helps to keep those affordable so that older adults can comfortably participate. A scholarship fund also allows lower-income individuals to participate at a reduced rate, or at no cost, so that no one is denied service based on an inability to pay.
The center provides health and fitness classes, wellness programs, aquatics exercise, educational opportunities, recreational outlets, and specialized services designed to assist older adults in maintaining their health and independence A nutrition program provides an opportunity for older adults to attend Lunch Club sites to obtain a warm, healthy meal each weekday. United Way funds help pay for “shelf meals” that participants can keep at home to eat on days when Lunch Club sites are closed for holidays or inclement weather.
The center also operates an employment training program for seniors, placing persons in community service jobs while assisting them with developing additional skills needed for obtaining regular employment in the private sector. United Way funds help pay for many of the classroom training offerings.
Established in 1988, Rufty-Holmes Senior Center is regarded as one of the best senior centers in the state and nation. Recognized as North Carolina’s first “Senior Center of Excellence” by the state Division of Aging in 1999, the center became the first center in North Carolina to be accredited by the National Institute of Senior Centers in 2001.
In addition to United Way funding, the center receives support from the city of Salisbury, Rowan County, local municipalities, state of North Carolina, private foundations, corporate sponsors, individual contributors, and program fees.
Over the last 26 years, Rufty-Holmes Senior Center has grown to serve more than 10,000 older adults annually. The main building has been enlarged three times, and some interior remodeling accomplished, to accommodate the growth in participation and services.
As more and more of our citizens reach retirement age, there is a greater need to direct resources toward older adult services. The costs of services provided by Rufty-Holmes Senior Center are small compared to the costs involved in providing more acute care for this age group.
As operating costs have increased over the years to meet increasing demands, support from the Rowan County United Way has allowed the center to meet the challenge of serving older adults, and most importantly, has freed the staff from having to engage in constant fundraising activities in order to support its services.
Raising funds the “United Way” helps Rufty-Holmes and all the other local agencies to be able to better deliver services. Money “raised here, stays here,” and is “shared here” among our own citizens.
Please give to the United Way.

Rick Eldridge is executive director of Rufty-Holmes Senior Center.

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