NORWALK, Conn. — TheDailyNorwalk.com accepts signed, original letters to the editor. Letters may be e-mailed to email@example.com.
To the Editor,
As spring continues and the May flowers arrive even without the April showers that normally usher them in, we move into the season of the spring fundraiser. This is when all of our local charities vie for your attention and money. I want you to take a moment and hopefully give a little to the Norwalk Senior Center.
About a year ago, we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Norwalk Senior Center. I wrote in this space about the creation of Older Americans Month by President Kennedy in the early '60s. In the decades since the '60s, the focus of senior centers has shifted from a place for stereotypical pursuits to the nexus of all manner of programs intended to keep our Seniors Aging in Place and ever growing and learning.
The Norwalk Senior Center resembles a Community College Campus more than a bingo parlor. The old paradigms have shifted and you are more likely to see foreign language classes, computer skills instruction and Zumba than quilting. Wait, there is quilting, too! Other programs include financial and estate planning, Pilates and Tai Chi. There is also instruction on the Feldenkrais Method, which I had to Google to understand, but now I know what it is, I may sign up.
The normal model of funding senior centers across Connecticut is via taxpayer support, but Norwalk's is one of only three in the state that is not 100 percent taxpayer supported. We do receive significant support from Norwalk. However, the city's and other grants amount to only a little more than 35 percent of the budget for the center and Meals on Wheels program. The rest of the budget is made up largely by member dues and fees. However, in reaching out repeatedly to an underserved and often impoverished senior community, we come up wanting for funds. We strive to offer a continuously improving and expanding range of services to a constituency that is also growing steadily, but they are often trapped by economics between a rock and a hard place.
The last year has been particularly arduous for us. If you read The Daily Norwalk often, you have seen stories about how the center has been beset by petty vandalism, rising gas prices and a drop a drop in grants from various agencies. We got to the point where the board of directors faced hard choices about how to ensure that the budget balanced. The staff came up with the idea of each taking two furlough days per month and they have endured this de facto cut in salary for over a year without complaint.
This year our fundraiser has been blessed by both a sponsorship as well as a "Homefront" project done at the center by FactSet Research Systems Inc., an international business headquartered here in Norwalk. On Friday, approximately 60 FactSet employees will converge on Allen Road for a day of painting, handiwork as well as a repair and sprucing up of the grounds, including the bocce court and the patio. Bless them for their commitment and the joy they are going to bring to our seniors. This type of involvement is the hallmark of a great organization.
Maybe you can't bring 60 of your friends by the senior center to work on a project, and maybe you cannot write a check for thousands of dollars, and that's OK. You can be a hero in one of two simple ways. The Cocktails and Cabaret event to support the Center will be on May 17 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Silvermine Tavern. Tickets are available for $85. You can get more information by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 203-847-3115 and I hope to see you there. If you can't come, take a few moments and "join" the Center ... no matter what your age ... by donating/sending the cost of one years' dues – $20 – to the Senior Center, 11 Allen Road, Norwalk, CT 06851. It's tax deductible and we will put it to good use, I promise.