Senior Citizen Center applies for grant to expand building, services

Published 6:39 pm Thursday, June 23, 2022

By Abigail Roberts

Correspondent

STANFORD – The Lincoln County Senior Citizens Center is hoping to grab federal grant money that would help expand the building to provide more services to local seniors.

A public hearing was held at noon on June 15 at the Senior Citizens Center to apply for funds for a Community Development Block Grant that would expand the center and increase its on-site capabilities.

Karyn Leverenz, with Bluegrass Area Development, will be writing the grant and shared more information about what the grant application entails during the hearing.

Leverenz said the grant money that the group is applying for comes out of the CARES Act, which is to be used to address Covid-related needs.

“So what we’re applying for is to expand your kitchen and to add an additional building for storage so you can start preparing your meals in-house and also prepare more meals because of the increase in need for home-delivery meals,” she said. “So this is in direct response to the Covid pandemic.”

The group can apply for up to $1 million, she said.

“Then I believe the Fiscal Court is going to provide some additional funds to pay for architectural services and maybe additional dishes, equipment and furniture, things like that. Then, eventually, we’ll work on expanding the other side of the building so that you can also expand your eating area,” Leverenz said.

She said the center meets two of three national objectives applicants need to receive the funding: to benefit low-to-moderate income persons and to meet community needs of a particular urgency.

Miranda Perkins, executive director of the center, provided details about the center and its services during the public hearing.

“Over the years of operating, our agency has grown in need drastically,” Perkins said. “Since Covid hit our communities in 2020, we have served close to 84,000 meals to senior citizens across our county. To say we have been busy, is to say the least.”

In May of 2022, the center partnered with God’s Food Pantry to oversee the senior commodities program.

“We currently have 246 active senior citizens on that roster and these people depend on these food boxes to supplement their grocery budgets,” Perkins said. “In the past year, this site has distributed over 3,000 boxes of food.”

With the inflation of groceries, gas, medications, household items and many other things that the community is currently facing, the need for programs such as those that the center offers will increase, Perkins said.

The expansion, if funded, would turn the kitchen into a commercial kitchen, she said.

“That will allow us to cook healthier, lower cost meals on site,” Perkins said.

A commercial kitchen on site would allow the center to provide more of a variety of meals and meals that are more nutritional, she said.

“We will have more direct control of ordering and serving to meet the needs of our members,” she said. “It’s going to take out the back-and-forth of ordering, scheduling, all of the administrative side that goes along with ordering and making our meal program happen with an outside vendor.”

A secondary part of the funding request includes expansion to allow room for storage and distribution of commodities.

“The storage will be here on site on the outside of our building in its own space for food pallets that we currently have to use space at the Lincoln County Baptist Association in order to distribute those one a month,” Perkins said. “It will allow us to store fresh fruits and veggies and that kind of thing.”

The center also hopes to add a large space or activity room on the side of the building.

“…That would give us the option to be able to provide more services by adding on a large activity room or additional dining space. If we ever were facing another pandemic and had to have the space to separate…we had to close on-site services through the Governor’s mandate for almost two years. So, that would give us more space to maybe be able to open sooner,” Perkins said. “We could possibly use that space as a pandemic response.”

That addition would have its own restrooms and showers so first responders could use it during emergency situations, if needed.

“The sky’s the limit on what we could use that for,” Perkins said.

Lincoln County Judge-Executive Jim Adams spoke on behalf of Fiscal Court during the public hearing and shared information about the grant process.

“It’s very competitive. There are dollars out there. We have more dollars available than we ever have but we have more people interested in obtaining those dollars,” Adams said.

Garlan Vanhook provided architectural drawings of the proposed expansion for the group to view during the hearing.

Leverenz said after submitting the application it will take about four to six weeks to receive a decision.