by Geoff Fox
Hazel Dunn, the manager of the Senior Center at the Hancock Community Center and Town Hall, came before town officials during the August town meeting, asking for assistance in bringing more people to the center and pointing out the town needs its own senior center.
Dunn said she was wondering if the town could “do just a little more” toward drawing people into the center.
Other senior sites are close by, but Hancock “really needs its own senior center,” she said.
Dunn said the site is the best place there is due to convenience of its location at Town Hall and it’s a “good place to be.”
Since the pandemic, attendance has dropped at the Hancock Senior Center and now it’s harder for staff to attract seniors to come in. Older residents are reportedly going to sites in Morgan County or Fulton County.
With the new sign in place along Pennsylvania Avenue, Dunn asked if the senior center would be able to have a small place on the sign people would see the hours and days the center is open.
“Just something every now and then to let people know we’re here and we’re open and we’d love to have them,” she said.
The Senior Center offers folks games, crafts, talks, blood pressure and oxygen levels taken, and other programs. There are also chances to have lunch or talk with others over a cup of coffee.
“It’ s so underutilized because there’ s just not many people coming in,” Dunn said, noting Hancock does have an older population.
At one point, before the pandemic, the senior center discussed having signage on the Community Center, but that signage never materialized.
Town Manager Mike Faith said the town had put an announcement on the sign about three weeks ago.
Faith said there is limited space, which is only five slides, so what is shown is limited. The one for the senior center ran for about a week.
That was done during the recent heat wave letting people know the senior center was a cooling station if it were needed.
“Not one person showed up, though,” Dunn said.
Faith said the town would be happy to put it on a few times a month.
Interfaith Service Coalition Director Debbie Cohill was in the audience and offered ISC’ s help in transporting seniors on shopping trips if that could help boost participation.
She said that had been a monthly activity in the past, however Dunn said rules have changed and trips are no longer permitted.
“Don’t ask me why. I think it’ s ridiculous,” she said. “And I’ve told them so.”
Cohill said Washington County Commissioner Wayne Keefer has a close relationship with the Commission on Aging and they need to be questioned because there are seniors who don’ t have transportation.
Dunn said it’ s a funding thing because some of the commissioners voted against giving Commission on Aging their funding, so its funding was cut “quite a bit.”
Cohill added she’d send an email to the commissioners and Commission on Aging officials on the change because ISC never charged for their rides and everything was provided.
“We’ll work on that for you,” Cohill said.
Councilman Josh McCusker, who was acting as Council President in the absence of Mayor Roland Lanehart, Jr., said he and other officials were open to promoting the center and getting a sign for the senior center.
“Very much appreciated,” Dunn said before stepping away from the microphone.
The senior center, which is located on the east end of Hancock Town Hall and Community Center at 126 West High Street, is open every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. and can be reached at 301-573-6295.