(Elwood,KS) After 42 years of serving seniors in Elwood, Kansas, the Leisure Hour Senior Center will permanently close its doors.
Joi Davies, Director of Aging and Transportation for Doniphan County, said lack of attendance at the center is causing them to shut down operations.
"They are at historically low numbers of people who are choosing to come and socialize and eat in,"Davies said.
Volunteers said the center serves between one and five seniors each day, compared to the twenty to twenty-five seniors the center served when it opened in 1976.
"The numbers have dwindled and the county has decided that for them to be the best stewards of how the money is handled, they decided it's best to close us down," Director of the Leisure Hour Senior Center Nancy Drake said.
The center serves hot, discounted meals to seniors in the area, but Davies said fewer seniors are taking advantage of the program.
"The aging population is working later in years, due to rising health costs, and we're living longer. Seniors tend to be a little healthier, because they are working longer, they are not needing that service as much,"Davies said.
Despite the Elwood center closing, volunteers from the Doniphan County Shelter Workshop will still helps deliver their home meals to people in the area.
"They will continue to receive their meals, home-delivered, like they always have, there will be no change there. This change will only affect those that chose to come into the senior center," Davies said.
For seniors that still want to socialize and have a hot meal, the Keen Age Senior Center in Wathena will be taking on new clients. The Department of Aging will also provide free rides from Elwood to the center.
"For those that don't have transportation and want to participate in the socialization, the public transportation service that runs out of this office has offered free rides to pick them up at their home, take them to the Wathena center to partake in the socialization, the noon meal, visiting and then take them back home," Davies said.
The building at 410 N 9th Street in Elwood is on a historical register and owned by the Riverside School District 1114. The building also hosts the town library as well as a local Boy Scout troop, Davies said she is unsure what will fill the space when the center closes.
The Department of Aging’s next fiscal year will begin August 1, and the money typically given to the Elwood center will be allocated to the funds to the Wathena, Troy and Highland senior centers. The Elwood Senior Center will serve it’s last meal on Friday, November 16