April 10, 2018
Downtown Senior Services Gets New Space For Work & Play
Eby began construction for Phase I of the Downtown Senior Services Remodel & Expansion project in August. Prior to construction, the team demolished portions of the Senior Services building and an adjacent church structure that had been used as management office space. The project includes a 1st and 2nd floor office area remodel, a new commercial kitchen (including an associated freezer, storage, and support facilities) for the Meals-On-Wheels program, and an existing multipurpose room remodel.
Many programs operate under the umbrella of Senior Services, including the Senior Employment Program (SEP), Respite Care, Hospice, Senior Mentors, and Meals-On-Wheels. Four senior centers throughout the city offers a variety of educational, social, and recreational activities to help seniors age well. Each year, their programs serve more than 9,000 residents in Sedgwick County, helping improve the lives of those age 55 years and better.
Meals-On-Wheels is one of the programs that has benefited the most from the project. It has been a long road to get where they are today, operating out of a 5,200 sqft state-of-the-art kitchen. Their previous space was 1/3 the size and limited their ability to expand or accept new programs. The new space is a welcome change, especially after enduring the results of a fire that displaced them from their kitchen space for four months in 2014-2015.
They currently provide 850-900 meals each day (Monday-Friday) to homebound seniors ages 60+ with the help of 60-70 volunteers who prepare and deliver meals. There are 70 delivery routes within Wichita. Organizations, such as Starkey and KETCH, regularly send volunteers to deliver meals as part of their skill development programs.
The project is part of the “Building For the Boomers and Beyond” campaign that will help the center better serve baby boomers in the years to come. The numbers of seniors desiring assistance through meal, employment, and event services are expected to increase significantly throughout the next decade. Senior Services is just now beginning to see the first wave of Boomers entering into their facility and programs.
“The new space is more efficient. The capacity change has allowed us to research options for incorporating menu choice and specialty diets (renal, diabetic, etc) into the Meals-On-Wheels program,” said Laurel Alkire, Executive Director of Senior Services, “As the demand grows, we can meet it now.”
Staff and volunteers have moved into the office space and kitchen, but the work continues in other parts of the building. Eby is close to completing Phase 1 which includes remodeling the multipurpose room and other 1st floor spaces in the existing building to better accommodate the needs and wants of Senior Services members.
Pickleball, for instance, is an increasingly popular recreational activity at the Center. The sport allows aging adults to stay active and competitive. Competitive Pickleball groups meet at the center more than 3 times each week, playing for 3+ hours at a time. The remodeled multipurpose room will include a sports floor to improve game experience.
Senior Employment Program (SEP) is one of the services that Senior Services offers. What began as a help wanted job board in 1982 has evolved into a program that places 500+ seniors each year. SEP offers resume and interview technique assistance, as well as computer training, one-on-one career counseling, an annual job fair, and a job club that meets weekly for anyone age 55 and older.
Eby is currently constructing a new front reception area that will better greet seniors walking in for services. Last year SEP saw 1,100 people come to them seeking employment. Once construction is complete SEP will be able to occupy their newly renovated offices and and expanded reception area.