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We should do better than this when it comes to serving our seniors

By Marilyn Dillon • Jul 25, 2019 at 1:00 PM

I was not able to be at the Enrichment Centers for Huron County board meeting on July 18. However, I had made my opinion known to the other board members through emails. I asked that before we took any decisive decisions that we would contact the Services for Aging in Columbus regarding our responsibility as board members and Roxanne's (Sandles) responsibility as director. But my suggestion was not taken.

Though I couldn't be at the executive meeting of July 10, the members attending turned that meeting into a board meeting so they could take a vote that night regarding Roxanne being asked to resign.

As a board member, I would like to make my side of the story known to the public. We are in the middle of working out a deal to move the seniors out of the almost completely condemned building. One end of it is already condemned. When we asked the Huron County commissioners what kind of help they could give us to get our seniors out of this building, Terry Boose reminded us that no where in the Ohio Codified Ordinances are they responsible for helping the Enrichment Services, formerly known as the Huron County Senior Services. Terry Boose is right when he sites the codified ordinances but he is totally wrong about the commissioners responsibility to the seniors of Huron County who are tax payers and whom they represent. Terry Boose said that “they” may soon have to remove us from that site. And when he was asked at a board meeting who “they” are he deferred to the health deptartment.

Isn't it sad that the seniors of Huron County are being tossed about? Along with this threat we are now shooting ourselves in the foot by publicly removing the one person who has done her best to make the mission of the Enrichment Center known in the community. Our feasibility study says we can not gain the support of the people of means in this community because we have several issues. Our infighting is certainly added to that perception by donors in the community. As a group of professional people assigned the duty of advocating for the seniors of Huron County we are doing a poor job of it and it doesn't surprise me that the donors in the community see us as a risk. As part of this board, and in the reality of things, I will be as responsible as all the other members for our failure to do our best for the seniors.

It is sad because this organization offers so much to so many seniors starting with the homebound seniors, seniors of low economic status, seniors who are looking for socialization, seniors donating their time to causes that promote involvement in the community and seniors who for the first time in their lives are able to take day trips, weekend excursions and vacations. Seniors who have worked hard all their lives, played by the rules, saved a little and who finally retired to enjoy life a little before becoming homebound or worse.

There is a vast array of projects that seniors can become involved with and through small groups come together to play cards, belong to national leagues in Wii bowling, have book study groups, make stain glass ornaments, have an exercise room available, come in the evenings to play dulcimers or bridge, work together as a team to put out more than a thousand newsletters to members of the community and much more. At one time, we even had a grant for “Project Friends” where seniors visited other seniors in the community who were alone most of the day and even nights.

I have had seniors tell me that they hate winters the most because it gets dark at 5 p.m. and they get so lonely. Are we even thinking about what our mission is? Seniors who have lost their spouses and most everyone else their age, long to have a purpose in their lives. This Enrichment Services provided some of that socialization. Senior transportation is not only available to get to the store, the laundromat or doctor's appointments, it also can get seniors together for socialization at the center or at each others’ home. The transportation is by donation and is our responsibility to provide out of the funds that the taxpayers vote in the levy money. Meals for the aging population is also part of that operating levy and the seniors are asked for a donation of $3 a meal because the operating levy money doesn't cover the total cost. Most seniors pay but we have many who are not able to cover the cost. It is still up to us to meets their needs.

So my point here is that Roxanne not only was the director of the organization she was a community spokesperson. She networked through community organizations to make our mission known, to garner support for our services and to provide avenues for the community awareness. On top of this she made friends with seniors. She makes contact with seniors who become ill, she sends out feelers for seniors who normally are in attendance at the center to make sure that they are all right. She even called me about one of our seniors that I have made friends with to see if I had heard from her lately and in doing so we found out that she was ill. It allowed me to check up on this senior during her recovery. Roxanne may not be everyone's favorite but Roxanne has people who care about her.

I know I am not everyone's favorite because I have been told if I don't like what the board is doing I can resign. Well I will not. I will continue to be an advocate for the seniors and the people in need in Huron County as long as I am able. I am asking all the individuals in Huron County that support caring for seniors to do so also.

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