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Katie Ellerby: Gladstone's Senior Center needs to move from the mentality of 'closed' and 'cancelled'

Editor's note: On Oct. 25, the Gladstone Senior Center experienced significant water damage from rain that penetrated holes in the roof. Due to health and safety concerns, most of the building was closed, except for the east room. The Rotary Club was able to continue its weekly meetings, but Katie Ellerby has taken issue with the lack of temporary use of that room for senior activities.

At the recommendation of city staff, Gladstone City Council declared an emergency on Dec. 11 to authorize Gladstone City Administrator Jacque Betz to conduct emergency procurements in accordance with state law. Betz said the reroofing project has been completed, and this month city staff toured the building with four companies who made proposals for reconstructing the interior.

"We understand citizens are frustrated, and we continue to make this a priority," Betz wrote in a recent weekly report to city councilors.

PHOTO BY: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Outside of the Gladstone Senior Center, prior to the roof repairs.

Gladstone's Senior Center needs to move from the mentality of "closed" and "cancelled" to "Yes, we can!"

Communication to volunteers and seniors needs to be more than the Gladstone Senior Center's October sign on the door, "Closed until further notice." That communicated "stay out," and many still feel "out." That was disrespectful to volunteers and seniors who had been coming to Gladstone Senior Center for work and activities regularly for years.

Personal contact is best by postcard or phone call from Gladstone Senior Center staff or volunteers. Volunteers and seniors in their upper 70s, 80s and 90s don't communicate via Next Door Gladstone or through the city of Gladstone's website posting announcing the center's partial opening on Dec. 26.

Gladstone City Administrator Jacque Betz, Senior Center Manager Colin Black and the three Gladstone Senior Center Advisory Board officers met last Wednesday morning, Jan. 9, to brainstorm ideas on how to retrieve our Gladstone seniors back into volunteer work and activities after the center has been closed for 10 weeks.

Administrator Jacque Betz is always so appreciative of Gladstone volunteers. She's positive, forward-looking and competent in dealing with city issues. As of last week, we are on a roll to increase seniors attending all scheduled programed activities, except for lunch at present.

We've enjoyed the hospitality of the staff and seniors at the Pioneer Center in Oregon City every Wednesday for lunch for several weeks and continuing until our kitchen is operational. Gladstone Senior Center van transportation is used by some seniors.

Serving catered soups at our center one day a week until the center kitchen is back in use would be a pivotal draw for seniors. In the past, they would frequently participate in a morning activity like chair exercise and stay for lunch, or come for lunch and follow up with activities such as bingo, bunco, cards and games in the afternoon. Think: "Yes, we can," and show up!

Katie Ellerby is vice-president of the Gladstone Senior Center Advisory Board.


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