Letters to the Editor

Funding cuts may harm Island seniors

This winter, while we can all appreciate the need to trim expenses, the Senior Foundation is very concerned that some of our most fragile residents might be cut off from city social programs which improve their lives. Equally important, their caregivers — often family members — will not get a much needed five-hour respite to re-charge their batteries. We want to be proactive, not just reactive in our response.

The mission of the Senior Foundation of Mercer Island is to act as a catalyst to help develop and empower community-based nonprofit programs that enhance the health, safety and well-being of Mercer Island seniors. Since the fall of 2003, we have given $31,021 in the form of grants for a variety of programs, services and equipment to help seniors.

Historically, a donor to the foundation could specify usage of funds given to the city, such as “for seniors.” Since 2001, however, donations earmarked for specific use have been put into the general fund. With all the cutbacks necessitated by the current economic crisis, the city is enacting other changes having a direct impact on Island seniors. As an example, the daily rate to participate in the Senior Social program will increase from $40 to $45. Partial senior scholarships will be available covering only three days in a quarter session of 24 days, and bus rides to and from the community center will be increased from this summer’s rate of 50 cents to a dollar each way.

The executive Senior

Foundation board is setting up a senior scholarship fund to help bridge budget shortfall/cutbacks. Island seniors who wish to take courses or classes, but who cannot afford the attendant fees, can apply for help in the form of scholarship funds.

If you have questions or want to request scholarship assistance, please call Leslie Scott, secretary of the Senior Foundation, at (206) 232-4597.

Leslie Scott

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