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Rick Eldridge: Active seniors are a good investment

Writer

Rick Eldridge, executive director of Rufty Holmes Senior Center.

By Rick Eldridge

Special to the Salisbury Post

Throughout the year, the member agencies of the Rowan County United Way attempt to share with the community how United Way funding is used to benefit our citizens.

Rufty-Holmes Senior Center is one of 16 local agencies supported by Rowan County United Way dollars. It is one of three United Way agencies serving local older adults in our community. The other two agencies serving our older adult citizens through United Way funding are Rowan Meals on Wheels and the Trinity Living Center, which provides adult day care services.

Rufty-Holmes Senior Center is a non-profit 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.

As non-residential programs, 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. Many are offered without direct cost to clients; however, some activities have program fees. Support from the United Way and other funding partners help to keep costs affordable so that older adults can comfortably participate without a financial burden.

The Center provides health & fitness classes, wellness programs, aquatic 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 have helped to 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 United Way has also provided funds in the past for our summer Fan Relief Program, and helped with facility projects through the annual Day of Caring.

Established in 1988, Rufty-Holmes Senior Center is regarded as one of the leading 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 Rowan County, Salisbury, several local towns, the state, private foundations, corporate sponsors, individual contributors, and program fees.

Over the last 30 years, Rufty-Holmes Senior Center has grown to serve about 4,000 different 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.

We appreciate those in our community who support the United Way, and want them to know that we value their contributions and are fiscally responsible in using them to benefit older adults in our county.

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

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