Dexter Senior Center is Strong, Healthy, and in Need of a New Place


By Doug Marrin

The good news is demand for services and programs at the Dexter Senior Center is growing. The other news is that the DSC needs to find a new place. That’s good news, too, because they will. It’s all good news.

The Dexter Senior Center’s mission is to provide programs and services enabling seniors to remain active and integral in the community and to empower them to retain their independence, dignity, and sense of well-being.

To fund this, the center relies heavily on membership dues, donations, and grants. But these don’t cover the entirety of its $157K budget (FY 2022). The center requests the shortfall from the municipalities whose members use the center’s services—the City of Dexter and the surrounding townships of Scio, Dexter, Webster, and Lima. Each share is apportioned according to the percentage of membership from that municipality. The center’s membership was 243 as of December 31 last year.

“Our current funding is complex compared to other agencies of our size and compared to other senior centers,” says DSC Board President Jim Carson. “While we have many community businesses that collaborate with us to provide discounts to our members, there are local supporters who directly sponsor our work. For example, the Dexter Lions Club covers the cost of our newsletter printing and postage. The Dexter Rotary Club funds WAVE Bus passes to aid our transit-dependent members.”

Carson also explains that regional foundations provide the center with grants. These organizations include the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation, Dexter Community Fund, 5 Healthy Towns, United Methodist Church Retirement Community Foundation, and Chelsea Hospital.

The center is humming with various activities Monday through Friday most weeks. Money is not the only investment paying for these services. Last year, 26 volunteers provided 3,096 hours valued at more than $88K in service.

Program Coordinator Kim Martini is an expert at balancing the timing and the diversity of the center’s services and programs. It shows. “Membership numbers are increasing each month as well as participation in programs and activities,” says Martini.

Movement and exercise are key to the center’s mission. Yoga classes help with movement and flexibility. A strength class helps build endurance for daily activities. General fitness classes with standing or seated activities help with range of motion and balance. Members attending the cardio-drumming class elevate their heart rate to different styles of music. The center offers other health services: acupuncture, chair massage, reflexology, and foot care.

Arts and crafts exercise the mind and coordination. Fine motor skills are utilized in the acrylic and watercolor painting classes. And speaking of fine motor skills, a needle arts group meets regularly with each participant working on their particular craft. Two looms provide unique opportunities to learn the art of weaving.

Plenty of games are played, cards and otherwise. There’s a French class. Music classes include choir, dulcimer, and ukulele. The center offers informational talks on health, education, recreation, and other topics pertinent to seniors.

The Dexter Senior Center’s Meal on Wheels program proved a lifeline for many during the pandemic shutdown. Last year, Meals on Wheels delivered 9.900 meals to the homebound. As essential as the food delivery is, the service is a check-in several times a week on the welfare of those it serves. The center’s Senior Café Lunch Program also serves a hot lunch at the center three days a week.

The DSC will soon need a new home. Its current lease runs out in about a year. Last year the center’s board conducted a series of focus groups to gain public input regarding a new location and programming. The two big takeaways were that folks want the DSC to stay within the city and the program selection to increase even more. The DSC board is working on a revenue plan to build a program that the community wants.

“We are very much looking forward to engaging the entire community in the coming months to support the center's move to a new location and future growth through a new and sustainable funding source,” says Carson.

I'm interested
I disagree with this
This is unverified