Guest Opinion: Update on the Ashland Senior Program

    The Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission would like to report to the citizens of Ashland that the Ashland Senior Program is open to all seniors and continues to offer all the current programming that Ashland seniors have come to expect.

    It has been approximately 10 years since the senior center and the senior program were transferred from the city of Ashland to APRC. One of our guiding goals continues to be the research for opportunities to expand the program to include more activities for our senior population by offering additional recreational programming as well as partnering with other social-service providers.

    Commissioners and APRC staff have listened to hundreds of comments from program participants and interested individuals. I sincerely believe that we understand how important the Ashland Senior Program is to our citizens. Personally, I have answered emails, fielded phone calls and met person-to-person with many members of this community. Whether it is simply to seek  additional information or if a forum is needed to express their opinion about the needs of the community, I have listened to their comments and concerns. I respect all of these opinions.

    I feel it is important to again note that the senior center is not closing, nor do we have plans for this to happen. Also, the important and popular Food & Friends lunch program is not going away. This program is sponsored by the Rogue Valley Council of Governments and operates in Ashland with the help of Ashland Parks and Recreation. The senior center building continues to be open during regular service hours and is staffed appropriately to meet the needs of the user population. We continue to recruit volunteers to support the programming that has regularly been offered at the center. And we are working on re-instituting the popular foot clinic that was canceled some months ago unbeknownst to APRC staff.

    The Ashland Senior Program is a valuable part of our community. Much of the future size, shape and offerings of the Ashland Senior Program will be explored by the Ashland Senior Program ad hoc committee that is being assembled and will start work in October. As previously stated, this committee will be a combination of program participants, field professionals, a city councilor, APRC staff and park commissioners. I personally look forward to working with this group to uncover ways to sustain, expand and improve the Ashland Senior Program to provide needed services to this valuable portion of our population, our Ashland seniors.

    — Mike Gardiner is chairman of the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission.

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