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Senior center expands services

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A PERFECT FIT:Jerry Osh works on solving a puzzle at the Marion Grant County Senior Center on Thursday.
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A QUALITY MEAL: Donna Fimpkinn, right, and Sarah Thompson enjoy a lunch at the Marion Grant County Senior Center on Thursday,

By Clay Winowiecki - cwinowiecki@chronicle-tribune.com

The Marion Grant County Senior Center has expanded its services.

Those who use the center are able to take advantage of programs such as Medicare counseling, legal advice on various matters and can even get their taxes done come February.

"We're offering programs such as Medicare counseling where people can come to us and learn how to enroll in Medicare Part D which is essential for those individuals turning 65," said Liz Wright, executive director. "We enrolled 147 individuals last year.

"That's a huge benefit to the entire community," she added.

Medicare volunteers come to the center once a week to assist those looking for help. 

The center also has an attorney who volunteers at least once a month and counsels people over the age of 60 on legal matters. 

For seniors looking for help filing their taxes, AARP trained volunteers will make an appearance beginning in February. 

The center also offers lunches to seniors looking for a hot meal, serving 75-100 people each week during the winter months, according to Wright.

During bouts of warmer weather, the center serves about 160 people a week. 

The most popular day is the last Friday of the month, when the center celebrates everyone's birthday. Seniors can get their fill of cake and ice cream. 

The event draws in around 75 community members.

The center also offers diverse activities for seniors, such as Wii Bowling, bingo and euchre. 

For seniors looking to get out of dodge, the center offers out of state trips a few times a year. 

Wright said the community center is a beacon for Grant County.

"(It's) a place that individuals can come to make new friends, feel safe and become active," she said. "What I hear from individuals that discover us for the first time, or are renewed to us again, is that they are very pleased with how clean our facility is and the services we have to offer." 

Many local seniors feel a connection to the center. 

"We need it," said member Sarah Thompson. "It's a good place to come."

The center allows Thompson to sing, exercise and helps her file taxes.

"It's very important to me," said member William Pearson. "It should be for a bunch of others too."

For those who aren't taking advantage of the center, Pearson said they don't know what they're missing.

Pearson said the center serves him a meal he wouldn't fix at home and helped him apply for state health insurance. 

For funding, the center relies on community support since it's $250,000 in annual funding was cut by the city three years ago, according to Wright. 

To help alleviate some of the financial burden, General Motors donated $10,000 to the center in September as part of its "teamGM Cares Week."

Wright said the center has had to scramble ever since to make up that deficit. It hasn't yet, but she said the center is getting closer to breaking even. 

"We're trying to offer and make ourselves known to seniors, asking that they come and give us a try," Wright said. "I think they'll be pleasantly surprised if they come and join us."