Millage is Key to the Future of the Dexter Senior Center
“The Dexter Senior Center is at a pivotal point of survival but the Multigenerational Activities Millage (M.A.M.) poises us for a bright future,” says Dan Chapman, long-time Board member of the non-profit agency.
For the last 50 years, the senior center has provided health and wellness programs, enrichment activities, volunteer opportunities, meals on-site, and meals on wheels to community members. During the pandemic in late 2020, the center’s Board realized drastic measures needed to be taken for the center to continue to support a growing aging population.
The Board undertook a strategic planning process in 2021-2022 with the backing of grants from the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation and the 5 Healthy Towns Foundation. These plans show the Dexter Senior Center’s future will only be possible if there is an adequate and predictable source of revenue.
Currently, there is not a predictable source of money to cover the DSC operational budget. Historically, 90% of the budget needs to be requested annually from municipalities, community donations, and grants with no guarantee of support. This labor-intensive process is now performed by board members and is not sustainable.
While the center offers many programs to DSC members, its operating budget is only 33% of other area senior center budgets. These senior centers have been expanding their budgets and services thanks to the support of local senior or recreation millages. Additional funding is needed for executive leadership, staffing and other program support comparable to other senior centers. The proposed Multigenerational Activities Millage (M.A.M.) will provide a predictable source of revenue to allow for the future survival and expansion of the Dexter Senior Center.
In the mid-1990s, due to the generosity of Dexter Community Schools (DCS) and facilitated by former superintendent John Hansen, the center was provided a home at Copeland. When Copeland sold to Encore, Dan Cooney graciously agreed to extend the lease for a few more years to allow time for transition to a new location. Now, once again, Dexter Community Schools will help to find a location for the future DSC in their facilities.
DSC currently provides approximately 250 older adults with many opportunities for social connectedness and enrichment. The center offers educational opportunities, a variety of exercise classes, creative workshops (e.g. ukulele and dulcimer groups; card making, painting, weaving), social groups (e.g., cards and games), and meals.
Additionally, DSC provides Meals on Wheels to homebound individuals in the community. Often there is a stigma or fear around aging that may prevent individuals from accessing services designed for older adults only to be compounded by the inadequate space, staffing, operations, and programs.
Dexter Senior Center’s future will only be possible if there is an adequate and predictable source of revenue. The millage, M.A.M., which is on the August 2nd ballot designates 25% of the millage to support the senior center. An estimated 5500 people aged 60+ live in the Dexter School District. The future DSC will reimagine what healthy and fulfilling aging looks like in our community. The vision is to have a new, expanded, welcoming, easily accessible space with programming aimed at the full spectrum of older adults and intergenerational activities, e.g. pickleball for more physically active older adults to care management referrals for persons experiencing more limitations and to support aging in place led by a qualified team.
For more information about the Dexter Senior Center, call 734-426-7737 or visit the website dexterseniors.org
Photo by Doug Marrin