BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — The Maumee Senior Center is preparing to welcome its members back again.
On Wednesday, June 16, the center will host its first in-person lunch after more than a year of being closed.
“We are ready for our seniors to come back. We have done things to try to connect with them, but it is not the same. It’s been sad to not have people here,” said executive director Malinda Ruble.
COVID-19 restrictions will be in place, as the lunch is being considered a soft reopening and senior centers are encouraged by the Ohio Department of Aging to continue best practices. Therefore, members are expected to wear their masks and will receive temperature checks upon entering. Members will also be asked to maintain social distance. Seating will be limited, and reservations are required.
In addition to the in-person lunch on that day, the center will host grab-and-go lunches for those who want to pick up food, and meals will be delivered to seniors requesting home deliveries.
“We will be offering all three of those for now. We are trying to start off slow and safe,” Ruble said.
On March 16, 2020, the center closed because of the virus outbreak, but the staff remained busy and committed to serving the senior population as best it could. In 2020, over 14,000 meals were delivered to seniors in their homes.
“That was all done with the help of staff and volunteers who donated their time and vehicles,” Ruble said.
The staff and volunteers also distributed activity packets and medical equipment as needed. Other services provided included caregiver support, online grocery ordering assistance, medical transportation, wellness checks and virtual programming.
“We were very busy,” Ruble said, “and we still are.”
New equipment was installed at the center as a result of the virus, including new touchless restroom faucets and towel dispensers, a new freezer and refrigerator to house extra food and special equipment to store food being transported for home deliveries. Additional shelf-stable meals were also purchased and distributed to seniors, and a new touchless temperature scanner is being installed.
Many of the funds needed to cover the extra costs associated with the pandemic came from over $150,000 in grant money the center secured along with private donations. The Ohio Department of Aging also recently provided a $40,000 grant to purchase large monitors for virtual programming, Ruble said.
“We’ve been very fortunate because some senior centers were not able to stay open or they only provided limited service.” Ruble said. “We were able to provide additional services on top of modifying our current services.”
The center is not restricted to Maumee residents, as those living in the surrounding area are welcome to use the center, and Ruble said the staff looks forward to welcoming everyone back.
“We are ready, they are ready, and we just hope that they come back and enjoy being in a safe environment as much as they can,” she said.
Limited transportation services remain in place for individuals who need assistance with transportation to medical appointments. The service is not restricted to Maumee residents, as it is available to seniors living throughout the area, including in Waterville, Whitehouse, Monclova and South Toledo. Reservations for that service are required.
On Wednesday, June 23, the Maumee Senior Center will host Tickled Pink, an outdoor event featuring root beer floats, a “tickled pink” activity and bratwurst, sauerkraut and peaches. Seniors are encouraged to wear pink and there is a suggested food donation of $2.50. Reservations are required and space is limited.
The first in-person event will take place on Wednesday, June 30 when McLaren St. Luke’s presents information on hearing and vision loss. Dr. Jessica Ickes will discuss the different types of hearing and vision loss as they relates to aging. Reservations are required to attend.
To make a reservation for either event, please call (419) 893-1994.
The Maumee Senior Center is located at 2430 S. Detroit Ave., in Maumee.
For information, please visit www.maumeeseniorcenter.com.