The tune to Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are a–Changin’ is playing in my mind. It’s an exciting time because it feels to me as though the wheel of senior needs has broken free of the ice it’s been frozen in and is beginning to turn. I realize this won’t make much sense to you at this point, but please stay with me.
With the impact of the aging of the Baby Boomers beginning to hit, senior needs will soon be screaming in our collective ear. Except that, sadly, seniors rarely scream for anything. Instead they suffer silently in the belief that others’ needs are greater than their own. They will make do. They don’t want to impose. And while there are lots of wonderful people and organizations working on behalf of Weld seniors in both the nonprofit and for profit arenas, Weld County hasn’t had successful long-term collaborations for the purpose of raising awareness of, and advocating for, senior needs.
That didn’t make sense to me, so I started the Weld Senior Services Task Force (WSSTF) and six individuals began meeting monthly in mid-2017. Taking our first Task Force action, we sent a collective email to United Way of Weld County (UWWC) in November requesting that they make Senior Needs one of the focus areas in their new Collective Impact funding model. As a result, in February we were pleasantly surprised to learn that the UWWC Board had voted to approve Senior Needs as one of just four focus areas, with Early Childhood, Youth, and Homelessness/Financial Stability being the other three. This is HUGE for Weld seniors!! The primary benefit of this designation by UWWC will be heightened public awareness, but that will in turn lead to more volunteers and financial support, which means an increased ability to serve seniors. And this is only the beginning of what a collaborative effort by key decision makers
will bring about, which is why creating Weld Senior Services Coalition (bigger group, same purpose) is also on WSSTF’s short list of things to accomplish, along with contributing to Weld Area Agency on Aging’s next Four Year Plan.
SRS Staff & Board have also been making changes to ensure that we meet the increasing transportation needs of Weld seniors, including the following.
- All client waiting lists will have been eliminated by the end of April, allowing clients to become active within three weeks of calling the SRS office
- In addition to weekdays, SRS is now able to offer transportation on evenings and weekends, and we are working to recruit more volunteers to pick up those rides
- We have a small Urgent Needs Team of volunteers whose members are willing to consider last minute health-related appointments which couldn’t have been scheduled within our required timeframe, and we are working to expand this team
- A volunteer mileage reimbursement pilot program will be rolled out soon in the hope that this will make volunteering more attractive to some and more affordable for others
- Look for the unveiling of a new name and logo under which our transportation program will be marketed, followed by a marketing push
- We have budgeted and made grant applications for marketing to potential volunteer drivers, and are planning to roll out our marketing plan starting in June
- We have been awarded the Community Foundation Serving Greeley and Weld’s Endowment Challenge Grant, an important step toward developing a strong major donor program
- Our 2018 goals include recruiting enough active volunteers to increase our ride numbers from 8577 to 13,000 while reducing our advanced scheduling notice from two weeks to one
Hopefully it makes sense now? Oh, The Times They Are a-Changin’! Thank you for the part you’ve played through your support of SRS. Smiles and blessings, JB