Belhaven Seniors’ Center still struggling for numbers

Published 5:39 pm Friday, August 14, 2015

Following months of dwindling numbers and a plea for Belhaven Town Council’s help earlier this year, the Belhaven Seniors’ Center still hasn’t seen an increase in its numbers.

Bryant Buck, executive director of the Mid-East Commission, which sponsors the center, said two council members were appointed to handle outreach for the center, but after countless ads, announcements and partnerships for senior programs, the numbers are still low.

“We’ve exhausted our resources and outreach efforts,” Buck said.

At Monday night’s council meeting in Belhaven, Buck addressed the council about the situation and said the commission would give them 90 more days to try to increase numbers, but if there is no change, then the commission will have to consider relocating the center.

“We have a lack of volunteers and support for the center,” he said at the meeting. “We want the town to utilize the seniors’ center.”

Buck said he doesn’t have any answers for why the number of participants has dropped so low.

On average, the center sees 75 people each day, and its numbers have declined from 3,054 participants in 2012 to 950 participants this past fiscal year, he said.

If the trend continues, the Belhaven Seniors’ Center would not meet its threshold for SCOPE certification, which qualifies the center for monetary support of its health initiatives, and if that happens, the center’s funds will likely be split in half, Buck said.

The center offers a variety of programs for seniors, including exercise groups, quilting and knitting, Healthy Lifestyles workshops, Tai Chi and art classes.

Buck said the seniors’ center is a good resource for senior citizens in Belhaven, and he hopes the efforts to spread the word about all of the different programs it offers will not be in vain. The Mid-East Commission will decide whether relocation is necessary in October.

“The bottom line is now we’re trying to get the word out to as many people as possible,” Buck said. “Obviously it’s a valuable resource.”