Trying to save it

By Jeff Smith

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Some dedicated volunteers in Keystone met on Sept. 14 to brainstorm some ideas about the Keystone Senior Citizens Center. The Senior Citizens Center could be closed down if some changes aren’t made.

One of the problems the group discussed is how there is a need for a cook and a director. In order to do that they would have to receive more money from the Town of Keystone.

Trinity Rapp of Keystone said that if a business was floundering like the senior center, more money would not be the solution. Mike Trike of Keystone said that the issue is not money but participation.

Deb Lervaag of Keystone said that it’s important to go to the Town of Keystone to keep the building functional.

The plan was to go to the Keystone Town Board meeting this week.

“We are looking at improving the senior center but we need town board support,” Lervaag said.

A potential problem is finding somebody willing to do the director position with minimal pay.

Jeanie Kirkpatrick came up with the idea to form a menu and make a list of activities that could be done at the senior center during an open house. The current plan is to have a potluck once a month at the center.

Kirkpatrick also suggested they should have a name change contest for the senior center.

The thought being that if it had a different name more people would be willing to come. They also don’t want to negate the seniors.

Cathy Madison brought up how there was no accountability for what was brought in for lunches.

The senior center does know what was being brought in during the bingo nights. Bingo is a popular event at the center during the winter season. In the past, the pre-bingo meal was a big moneymaker for the senior center.

The building could be utilized more as a rental space as some people probably don’t need a large space. Trike said they could rent it out more but they would need more people to oversee that.

Two huge needs that everyone was on board with was hiring a full-time director and doing a marketing campaign. Trike said that the director and cook being the same person is a problem. That is what he has been doing but he had to cut back.

“Every hour that I was paid I volunteered two,” Trike said.

Trike thought that maybe someone could start as a volunteer director and only do one or two things before taking it on completely.

Trike will most likely still help out in the future.

The center will most likely continue to flounder unless it gets support. It was brought up that other senior centers in the area do pretty well but the Keystone center doesn’t see much activity. Linda Halley said with the news of the Keystone Senior Citizens Center struggling to stay open they will find out how much interest there is.

One advantage to the senior center is the kitchen that is laid out well. They do utilize a lot with a lunch meal offered at the senior center Tuesday to Friday. The Keystone senior center could be looking at raising the cost of the meals and membership of the Keystone Senior Center.

Lervaag said they need more marketing and a different look so people see the senior center as a fun place. Trike said that more seniors in the area also need to leave their house more often.

A director and cook could be two separate positions in the future. Keystone has never had one of each. Trike said that one part-time cook would work, except during events. He knows from experience that it won’t work to start cooking for special events a few hours before it happens. A lot of planning needs to take place ahead of time.

The crew that was at the Keystone center on Sept. 14 is hoping that more people are going to show up for the next meeting.

Halley is hoping that someone will be able to help out at the center soon. She sees the center as a perfect place for a private party.

“The city is pretty supportive of it, but there are some naysayers,” Halley said.

“We just need more people to come use it.”

Fundraisers could also be a way to help keep the center going.

“We would like to make it be self-sufficient,” said Lervaag.

One thing that is clear is that there will need to be a change in the costs of meals because they are too cheap now.

The plan is to make fliers about another meeting to be held about the issue. The meeting will be held Sept. 27 at 5:30 p.m. in the Keystone Senior Citizens building

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