Senior Center: Return It to What It Was – Citizen’s Plea to the City Council and Mayor

To City of Ashland Councilors and Mayor
Dear Leaders:
Echoing other citizens, I believe that the Senior Center with its outreach of social services should be under the auspices and control of the City, not the Parks and Recreation department. Also, I request in the strongest manner that Christine Dodson be re-hired as the Senior Program Manager.
During spring, 2016, I had to move my father, age 88, and my mother, age 89, from their two independent Ashland households into a senior community within weeks. My father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and suddenly could no longer drive to get meals. As a single mom who works full-time, I was in crisis trying to keep him fed. At the same time, notice came that the house my mom had rented for twelve years would be put up for sale. She had to move, and we all know about Ashland’s impossible rental market.
Chris Dodson met with me immediately and gave suggestions that saved the day. She helped arrange Meals on Wheels for my father to cover the interim and gave me advice on how to get both my parents placed in a local senior living community. The latter was somewhat of a miracle given my father’s limited means. Chris’s explanation of that market helped me negotiate a discount that meant my father could afford his unit.
Chris also educated me on many critical issues. I needed every bit of that knowledge quickly to assist both parents: Medicare supplemental coverage, potential Medicaid support and the many conditions involved, the need for us to obtain a Power of Attorney and Advanced Directive for my dad, and many more. Other government agencies I called before contacting Chris did not help me with actionable information or practical solutions. The Senior Center, with Chris as its Program Manager, can provide invaluable service for stressed out family members as well as the seniors.
These are not matters that should be handled by the charming Parks and Recreation staff members who registered me for ballroom dance classes at the Grove in prior years. Rather, they can mean life and death for our vulnerable elders in Ashland. I recommend that Senior Services be moved to more appropriate governance by the City. I hope it is possible to make a wise course correction, retaining Chris Dodson’s deep expertise. Her relationships with the seniors and volunteers that I witnessed at the Center during my visits there are irreplaceable.
Thank you, and I look forward to your replies and intervention to remedy a dangerous situation.
Sara-Lynne Simpson