I have always thought of the word senior as meaning someone who is in their fourth year of either high school or college. But, as I mature I realize I too am close to being a senior, and not the graduating kind, unless you think becoming a senior citizen entitles you to graduation gifts from family and friends, which isn’t such a bad idea. Maybe it’s time for our kids to give back to us for a change.

Of course then we get to the part about what qualifies a person to be a senior citizen. Is it age 60, 65, or 70? I keep hearing that 60 is the new 40. I’d sure like to think that, except as time goes on the government expects us to work longer and longer in order to be rewarded with the Social Security most of us have been paying into all of our working lives.

Rebecca Arcos, who has been the Healy Senior Center’s executive director since 2009, was the guest speaker at last week’s Garberville Rotary Club’s meeting.

Arcos was born in Polk County, Florida and literally grew up in the YMCA organization, where her father was involved for many years. She said her favorite things are dogs and snowboarding.

Current HSC board members include Suzan Gupton, Heather Gathmann, Estelle Fennell, Evelyn King, Jack Foster, Dan Healy, De-Anne Hooper, Gary Wellborn, Don Orazem, Whitey Fladen, and Jim Hoeffer.

Members of the staff include director Rebecca Arcos, Richard Valentine, Michelle LeVallee, Duane La Fond, and Linda Peterson. Arcos said she is very grateful for the board members and staff, but the heart and soul of the HSC are the 75-plus volunteers who make it all work.

Timeline

The senior center was started in Garberville with their first contract from the Area I Agency on Aging in 1983.

Meals on Wheels began in 1985, followed by the purchase of the current building on Briceland Road in Redway in 1989.

The name was changed to the Healy Senior Center in 1994 after the tragic death of Dan Healy Sr., who was killed in an airplane accident at the Garberville airport.

Healy Sr.’s son, Dan Healy, was the sound engineer for the Grateful Dead and through the Rex Foundation, the HSC receives grant funding each year. Dan and wife, Patti, have been huge supporters of the HSC for many years. Their home in Redway was the location of the annual yard sale for many years before it outgrew the location and was moved to area at the back of Redway School.

Programs and Events

Some of the programs available through the HSC include the firewood program, low-cost blood draw, safe-driving classes, air ambulance membership, blood pressure checks, and flu shots.

The HSC offers various entertainment including senior fitness classes, bingo, cards and games, potlucks, and various fundraisers including pancake breakfasts and flea markets. You can also purchase T-shirts and other items at the center.

This past Friday they put on an event honoring our local veterans and seniors at the Garberville Theater where they showed the Alfred Hitchcock film Vertigo.

And, of course the biggest fundraiser of the year is the annual yard sale, which celebrated its 16th year this past summer.

Nutrition Program

The HSC is vital when it comes to providing good nutrition for our area seniors. The weekly lunches at the center serve 3,500 meals per year. The Meals on Wheel program volunteers deliver meals to our homebound seniors five days a week. The cost is $6 for those 60 and older, and $8 for the younger crowd.

Everyone is welcome to come enjoy a nutritious lunch and great company. No one is ever turned away for lack of funds. (See lunch menu each week in the Redwood Times). Arcos asks that you call by 10 a.m. the day of the lunch so they will know how many meals to prepare.

The newest program, Frozen Meals, costs only $3 per meal and provides up to five meals a week. This is very helpful to those residents who live too far away to take advantage of the hot Meals on Wheels service. Arcos said they are hoping to get the salad bar up and running soon, which will provide even more options. 

The annual cost for the lunch program is $96,400 with Meals on Wheels costing $60,000.

She asked that if you know of someone who might benefit from one of these programs to please contact the HSC and she can put you in touch with the proper person.

Funding

As with any organization, costs run high to keep the center’s doors open. The HSC’s budget for 2012 was $166,000.

Income sources for 2011-2012 included the Area I Agency on Aging, foundation grants, participant contributions, fundraisers, and unsolicited and solicited contributions.

Arcos said the A1AA is expensive to do business with due to administrative costs involved and the time it takes to fulfill the requirements needed. However, she said because of the working relationship with A1AA they have been able to apply for and receive other grants.

Future Goals

Arcos said the top issues for the HSC include building maintenance, funding, and building up the lunch attendance.

The HSC is working towards becoming an Emergency Preparedness Center and is purchasing a generator. The heating and air conditioning units are due to be replaced and new floors and kitchen counters are needed. The center would also like to expand services to outlying areas and increase attendance in the different programs.

Arcos said if you know of someone who has a transportation problem, give the center a call at 923-2399 and the staff will help connect you with a volunteer. She said it’s important to help each other out. We are a small community but cover a very large area. If you are available to drive someone in your area, please let Arcos know or call the center and talk to a staff member or volunteer.

The annual holiday party will be held on Thursday, Dec. 20 at 12:30 at the HSC, 456 Briceland Rd., Redway. Bring a white elephant gift if you can.

REDWOOD TIMES PHOTO BY SUSAN GARDNER

Healy Senior Center executive director Rebecca Arcos gave a presentation at last week’s Garberville Rotary meeting.