On any given day of the week, the Ballard NW Senior Center is buzzing. From yoga to foreign language classes and even tax help, it’s an important resource for the older residents of Seattle. The center sees roughly 4,000 members, but they’re worried about keeping up with the costs of operations. National news organization Equal Voice News just released a multimedia story titled, “Elders in America: Living on the Edge. Why We Should Care,” depicting the experiences of the center’s many members and the challenges associated with keeping the senior center open.
In the video, Ballard NW Senior Center Director Carlye Teel nicknames it the “duct tape center,” pointing out that there are an endless number of fixes and updates the center needs to remain open and safe for members. The center operates with a yearly budget of $500,000, 60 percent of which is secured through the center’s regular fundraisers and events like bingo, rummage sales, and craft and bake sales. A good portion of the funding comes from the City of Seattle, which owns the building (the center doesn’t have to pay rent, but is responsible for maintenance). Funding also comes from the non-profit Senior Services and United Way, but Teel says it’s still a struggle to maintain the building and keep up the programming. In the story, Teel says they recently had to fix the broken elevator, which was $4,200.
Rose Cornicello, 95, has been a regular at the center for a decade. She told Equal Voice that she became a member the moment she walked into the center, and worked as the receptionist for 10 years until her eyesight began to fail. “If you want a happier place than this — no,” she says, as tables fill in the dining area. “I just walked in here and said, ‘This is home.’”
Equal Voice is written and edited by award-winning professional journalists with a depth of experience in major newsrooms throughout the country. It’s published by Marguerite Casey Foundation, which provides grants to organizations working on the issues behind family poverty.