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By The Skanner News | The Skanner News
Published: 07 December 2005

The Central Area Senior Center has provided ready access to services and activities to African American seniors and a diverse mix of older adults of other backgrounds and cultures for 30 years.

Despite that fact, a lack of sufficient funds to maintain current operation levels and support needed growth threatens to close the doors of the center sometime in the next year.

"We have experienced an extremely difficult financial year," said Linda Jones, the center's director. "Without the support of the community, we can not make it."

A community meeting will take place from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Dec. 8 in the center's dining room, at 500 30th Ave. S. Jones. The center's board of directors is hosting the meeting to talk about the center's future and encourage others to help answer the question of what it needs to survive in a rising economy and changing environment.

"With each year, the costs to maintain our present level of service increases," said Thurston Muskelly, president of the center's board. "Fund-raising efforts as mandated by our board of directors have fallen below the expected outcomes this year and last year."

According to Muskelly and Jones, the center's board faces the challenge of raising an additional $30,000 in order for the center to end 2005 without a deficit and remain operational.

The changing community in which it is located also hampers the center's operation. Jones said the center must grow to serve the needs of not only older adults but also new, younger families in its service area. Older community members, while still looking to the center to provide myriad social, emotional and physical needs, often cannot afford to contribute to the financial support of many of the very programs and services designed to ensure their well-being.

Funding for more intergenerational programs and programs that would appeal to and attract younger families has fallen short. The facility itself is in need of a structural refurbishment and expansion to accommodate the type of programming that would better serve the needs of all of its community members.

"CASC is a vibrant place and a holder of important Seattle culture that has not attracted its appropriate share of community support in funds, participants, or volunteers," said Denise Klein, executive director of Senior Services for the city. "Senior Services is proud to operate the center but we need help from others. Please think about what this community institution means to you personally, and give what you can or make connections with others who will help."

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