St. Ann’s Senior Center preparing for cut in funding

BALDWIN — The Area Agency of Aging of Western Michigan cutback $14,000 in funding from the St. Ann’s Senior Center starting with the new fiscal year effective Oct. 1. The cutback could possibly impact four services offered at the senior center.

Shelly Shafer, program director for St. Ann’s Senior Center, said the agency is anticipating general state and federal cuts, and are trying to conserve money at the beginning of the fiscal year so they don’t go over their budget.

“We are doing everything we can to come up with fundraisers to fill in the gaps so we don’t have to cut services,” Shafer said. “It was difficult enough operating on what we had before the cut. We are sure our programs will continue to be supported by our very giving community. We cannot accomplish all we do without their efforts.”

Some of the ways the community helps the senior center is through United Way, with an allotted amount taken from paychecks to help the center. Fundraisers such as the upcoming Salmon Run and chili cook-off also help put money back in the budget. Trips are hosted where $40 to $50 is earned for each senior in attendance. A group of 52 residents just returned from New York City.

“All nine counties in the Area Agency of Aging of Western Michigan district received cuts, not just us,” Shafer said.

The four programs impacted by the loss of funds are the congregant meals, the homemaker program, transportation and home-delivered meals.

“Our new fiscal year starts Oct. 1, and so far we haven’t made cuts in these services, but if we cannot recoup money by the middle of the year, which is in March or April, this might change,” Shafer said. “We are making changes where we can, such as consolidating transportation trips to towns such as Ludington or Big Rapids. Instead of driving people to these locations five days a week, we will have certain days we will offer transportation to those towns, so five or six people can ride together.

“We won’t start this until January. This is a way to make it our transportation program more cost effective. We have to figure out when specialists such as a heart doctor or cancer specialist will be available in these areas so we can aim for those days.”