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Letter to the Editor Raises Questions to the Future of Garden Valley Senior Center

Recently I have been made aware of a proposal to change the charter of the Garden Valley Senior Center Inc.(GVSC) to that of a thrift shop.  As a 25-year member of the GVCSC and having formerly served on its board of directors as Treasurer for eight years, I am adamantly opposed to such a proposal by the present board who took office in July of this year.

This idea is fraught with legal issues that would need competent legal help to unwind.  The center is incorporated as a Senior Center, the property was purchased with Federal Grants, the deeds and other legal documents are in the name of GVSC, and as a 501c3 the Center is legally chartered with the IRS as a non-profit Senior Center.

Granny’s thrift shop is a part of GVSC and not a separate entity.  It is run entirely by dedicated volunteers and was formed to be a source of revenue for the Center where 50% of revenue would be granted to nonprofit organizations throughout Garden Valley.  As such it has been wildly successful, raising thousands of dollars each year for our community and providing low cost gently used cleaned and pressed clothes and household items to those in need.

The GCSC was incorporated 40 years ago by 18 seniors who felt the need for a senior center in Garden Valley providing a weekly nutritional program. These folks were willing to devote their time, effort and funds to form the Center. This need still exists in Garden Valley and the community will not be well served should it end. Several years ago, when the membership number over 150 persons, in their yearly general meeting (with fewer than 50 members present) by a single vote voted to withdraw from the Elderly Opportunity Agency that provided the Center with government funds to run a weekly congregate nutritional program, hire a part time Coordinator, Cook, and assistant to provide 3 dinners and a breakfast each week.  Without those government funds, the Senior Center dismissed their hired staff and ended the weekly nutritional meal program.  Without a part time coordinator, many other senior programs have also ended.  Granny’s thrift shop now occupies ¾ of the center and there are few events at the center designed for seniors.

An advisory committee was appointed by the board to recommend a future for the Senior Center. I was part of that committee and in October of 2015 we presented 11 recommendations to the board including appointing a part time coordinator, providing more senior programs, and a weekly luncheon program that would lead to the return of a weekly Congregate Meal program such as those run in Idaho City and Emmett.  The board at that time tried out several of these recommendations but in a short time showed little interest in enthusiastically pursuing those proposals and eventually shelved all of them.

The present board of directors with one exception have demonstrated that they have little vested interest in running a senior center.  This board has the power to change the By Laws and run the center in any way they please, but they do not have the expertise to change the legal charter of a Senior Center to a thrift shop.  Center members and interested community members who are concerned about GV without a Senior Center should show up at a GVSC board meeting held in the Senior Center (every second Tuesday of the month at 9:30AM) and voice their opinion.  Otherwise we may witness the end of a Senior Center in Garden Valley.

Rich Smith, Garden Valley

2 Comments on Letter to the Editor Raises Questions to the Future of Garden Valley Senior Center

  1. Thanks for the letter, Rich. I served as Secretary for the “Futures” Task Force considering programs in the future that would serve the needs of the large population of seniors and others in Garden Valley. Two of the recommendations of the Task Force were a weekly meal served by funding support from the EOA and a Bingo game modeled after the one that provides the Senior Center in Cascade with $10,000 a year in income.

    In answer to the Task Force’s recommendations, the Board provided a lunch run by volunteers that was not attractive and failed…just as it was obviously planned to do. Idaho City’s lunches are well done and serve about 50 each time…in a town 1/4 of the size of Garden Valley. They are successful enough to buy and operate a bus to run seniors to doctors, etc. They care about their seniors.

    The Board also provided the same Bingo Night that failed a year or so ago…again just as it was obviously planned to do. Cascade’s Bingo Night is a gambling event held every Friday night and registered with the State. That senior center is quite willing to help us model ours just like theirs. They too care about their seniors.

    The report goes on and on. The members of the committee even volunteered to organize and run the recommended events to counter the argument that no volunteers could be found to run things. Janie Carlson should be congratulated for Chairing the Task Force. Good job!

    Now, the GV Senior Center was organized to be a service to seniors. Granny’s was to be a fund raising activity for the Center. It has been a huge success! Congratulations to all involved! It was organized to provide 50% of its profits to the Center as I recall, so it was a function of the Center, not the other way around. The new plan as I understand it reverses those roles, so violates the charter. Rich Smith, who organized it and ran it as Treasurer for many years, warned that the Board needs to get a lawyer in order to change that charter with the IRS, the State and the County. It would be better to run it as originally chartered and SERVE THE SENIORS OF GARDEN VALLEY, not relegate them to watching television in one corner of the thrift shop.

    I recommend that every senior in the valley attend the next Board meeting at 9:30am on the second Tuesday, November 14 in protest to ignoring the seniors in Garden Valley. Just sit there and take names of those who would ignore the seniors in the valley on that Board. Then when the Board elections come up (June, 2018 I think) elect 4 new Board members representing seniors so the Board will not ignore GV’s seniors again. Some of the citizens in the Garden Valley care about their seniors…but apparently not all.

  2. No Senior Center!?! That’s wrong & I hate to hear it~

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