The Issaquah Senior Center, Mount Si Senior Center and Snoqualmie Valley Senior Center are collaborating to transform their facilities into a Eastside senior resource hub.
On May 24, the three senior centers jointly applied for a grant from the King County Veterans, Seniors, and Human Services Levy to fund programs to reach new audiences and to share resources and services between each location.
Issaquah Senior Center Supervisor Courtenay Garcia said the goal of the effort is to form a geographic hub on the “far east of King County” to improve the available services for seniors in the region. The grant is for just under the maximum amount of $440,000 for a five-year period.
“We did that for a few reasons. You could write the grant as a stand alone, but we really believe the true intent of the grant is to create partnerships that better services the seniors in our area,” she said. “You can be better together, pooling resources, sharing ideas, collaborating on case management.”
Services on the Eastside have sometimes meant “just Bellevue,” Garcia said, leaving out many of the seniors who have trouble with transportation. The collaboration is intended to bring improved services to the existing demographics as well as under-served senior populations.
People are not coming to senior centers by choice or because of barriers, so by bringing in new programs and sharing more resources, the three senior centers hope to engage larger portions of the senior population.
“We wrote (the grant) on increased cultural and diversity programs,” she said. “Our main focus was the LGBTQ community, the Latino and Hispanic community, kinship care which is grandparents raising grandkids, and Asian Indian programs. We really felt strongly for bringing those four programs to the Eastside.”
Some of the facilities already have programs addressing these under served populations and additional funding will allow further growth and development. The Snoqualmie Valley Senior Center in Carnation already has a kinship program, so grant funding would be used to expand it further.
The grant would also pay for a shared marketing employee who would work to promote the various activities across the region. They would let people know about programs and events happening at the other centers and would work to reach isolated seniors who are home-bound or who may speak another language.
In developing the application, Garcia said the relationship between the senior centers has grown tremendously. While the programs funded by the money would be a jumping off point for the organizations, there are still opportunities for further partnership if the funding is not awarded by the county.
Garcia said grant announcements will be made in July with programming and funding to begin as soon as Sept. 1, if awarded.