October is here and I am excited about sharing our plans to improve the Senior Center. In October 2015, the board and I sat down and began to determine how we could maximize the existing building footprint to keep up with the growing demands of the aging population in the Fairbanks North Star Borough.
The planned remodel will give the Center a “multi-purpose” room to allow the congregate meals and volunteering to continue while the dining room is occupied with exercise classes.
What are the problems with the current dining room space?
Last year, we had 4,000 visits to exercise classes, and in the same room, we served over 6,000 congregate lunches in our dining room, as well as, providing an additional 4,000 meals to the Fairbanks Native Association elder program. Needless to say our dining room, (aka the “all-purpose room” as I like to call it), is busting at the seams. When, including all the volunteerism that happens in the “all-purpose room” to keep the Meals on Wheels program serving its 52,000 meals, well, we have just run out of room. The planned remodel will give the Center a “multi-purpose” room to allow the congregate meals and volunteering to continue while the dining room is occupied with exercise classes. It will also create a space for extra revenue generating activities and gatherings to take place.
So, how do we improve the current space?
Once we determined a solution, we met with David Whitmore, a local architect, and a few engineers. Everyone got to work drawing plans to increase space, improve and repair safety concerns and make the necessary improvements flow into the present building space. The primary focus of the remodel will be to address the narrow hallway leading into the dining room, widen the presently non-compliant ADA doorways into the dining room itself (now barely wide enough to get a walker/wheelchair through), and finally, get the dryer out of the dining room into a pocket door space in the men’s room. (imagine that, a dryer that is not in the dining room)! 🙂
The plan will be to install 1-hour safety handicap doors to meet fire code requirements when widening the hallway, and replace the current carpet with a slip resistant washable floor to give the proposed multi-purpose room more flexibility.
We were joined by Johnson River Enterprises, and with our amazing architect, came up with a solid plan to create a sustainable project.
The total project cost for construction is $140,206.00, with a written guarantee from the general contractor that the cost will not exceed the quoted price.
How do we plan to fund this project?
(1) In July, we submitted our first “informal” request to the Rasmussen Foundation and in September, the Center was invited to submit a Full Tier II proposal for $82,000 to be reviewed by Rasmussen’s Board of Directors in November.
(2)The Senior Center then turned to the City with a request resulting in Fairbanks City Major Eberhart and the City’s financial committee committing $25,000 toward the project.
(3)The Center has obtained a $19,000 loan from Denali State Bank. Our goal is to create an amazing building campaign, and receive magnanimous support from our members and other Community citizens to raise the remaining $13,206 building debt.
As the Executive Director, I take this project extremely seriously. Debt is not always a good thing. However, I see the numbers of the aging population in our community and know firsthand the tremendous needs that will be placed on the Senior Center, family members, loved ones, social service providers and our community to help care for all we love. You have heard me talk about the numbers before…20,000 people over 60 years of age in our population by the year 2020 with only 250 aging care beds available in town.
I am available anytime to give a tour of the project and to explain how it will make a positive impact on the building and our community. I am also here anytime to answer your questions. My loyalty is to the Senior Center, our senior population and our community as a whole. There are many things I see each day that are heartbreaking and only reinforce the importance of this project and what we do here at the Senior Center.
So how can you help?
Donate…donate…donate. Volunteer! Talk to your neighbors, loved ones, reach into your own pockets or have a bake sale. Help me to continue our mission of making sure no senior goes hungry, neglected, hurt or without any basic human need, including companionship.
Thank you for your constant and continuing support.
Darlene Supplee Executive director
Check out this great video