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OPEN LETTER TO THE BEND PARK AND RECREATION BOARD 

People are becoming angry about issues with the senior center lunch program.

On June 16, I went to the congregate meal site to have lunch and listen to music with an older adult client. The meal was interrupted before it began by a panel from

BPRD [Bend Park and Recreation District] and community partners representing the "social serves" aspect of the current Senior Center. Not only was I appalled at the lack of etiquette making this group wait over 45 minutes for their meal, but to hear the Park and Recreation spokesperson tell these Seniors that they were going to move the meal site to the Bend Community Center; repeatedly stating that these seniors were not being "kicked out" of the Center; and that [Bend] Park and Rec was not a "social services" agency, but a "recreation" agency.

What a great scam BRPD played on the older adults in this community! Ten years ago, they asked, "Give us money" and we will build you a new Senior Center where you can come for congregate meals and enjoy activities! The Center was built with funds from the community so that seniors had a place to go to meet, enjoy a meal together, and engage in other activities that are geared toward older adults. Obviously, the Bend Parks and Recreation Board does not understand recreation from this culture's point of view, nor does it understand how difficult it is for many of these seniors to get around.

Shame on you for not understanding that the meal site is an activity for many seniors - possibly the only one that many of them enjoy in a day or week or month.


And, while we are on the subject, let's talk older adult recreation. Parks and Recreation just cut scholarships at the pool for older adults and adults with disabilities. These are few services that are actually geared towards older adults with disabilities: Is there one Tai Chi class for people in wheelchairs? How about chair exercises for seniors with mobility and balance issues? Do you have equipment that is available and accessible to older adults with these issues? How about activities and accommodations for older adults with mild cognitive impairments? Do you print up your brochures for seniors in large print? Do you send out your brochure to partnering agencies that actually serve seniors - even the "social service" agencies? Do you survey the foster homes, and assisted living facilities about the activities their clients would enjoy at the Senior Center? How about the seniors mental health community? What actual recreational outreach do you attempt to provide for seniors in our community?

You have the audacity to say you are not "kicking them out" of their facility! Take their money and then tell them they have to go elsewhere for one activity that brings this population together and further isolates them from the "recreational" crowd. You should be proud of yourselves.

I am not yet part of this growing population, but guess what? You and I are going to be some day. Ageism will catch up to you Bend Parks and Rec. I suggest you start planning for the future and learn something about all of the older adults in our community, even the ones who use "social services."

Someday you will be one.

Sincerely,

A Senior Advocate

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