Some 90 people turned up at Palm Coast City Hall this morning for a meeting organized by the city to hear directly from older residents about what services they want. Representatives from ElderSource, the non-profit that contracts and monitors elderly services in the region, facilitated the meeting, which was organized by the city’s leisure advisory committee and Alex Boyer, the city’s parks and recreation director. They heard plenty to fill scrolls of pages in a couple of writing boards set up for the occasion.
None of the proposals were new, and many recurred this morning as they have for years: senior centers. Transportation. Occasions to meet new people. Senior centers. Art and language classes. Health and tax clinics, help with Medicare and insurance. Senior centers. A pro bono system that would help older residents on fixed income with such things as handyman services, a newsletter that would help the elderly interconnect. And of course senior centers—or at least one designated senior center.
The other central issue—or problem—that emerged out of this meeting was this: a lack of communications. Some people were unaware of the existence of such things as the city’s leisure services committee, or its web calendar, for example. ‘Everybody gets their water bill, so let’s at least put a page in there of what’s going on,” one woman suggested (though the city is trying to get away from paper-based billing, which is costly.)
There was no question that the issue is commanding attention and interest: it’s not often that a community meeting draws close to 100 people in the middle of a weekday morning—at least not when the issue relates to a sudden cost increase, an unwanted development or the controversy of the moment. But the meeting also drew out a stream of complaints that in Palm Coast, whenever talk has turned to seniors’ concerns, it’s never gone much further than talk. The undercurrent to many comments was a sense of being ignored or patronized–listened to, yes, but only up to a point.
There was the occasionally disturbing claim, as when Mayme Casady spoke of meeting with Jim Landon, the city manager, to talk about elderly issues two years ago—when she and 18 people met with him. “I asked him, do you know how many senior centers there are in St. Augustine? His answer was no, and I don’t care,” she said, concluding: “I’ve gone to meeting after meeting after meeting and we’re still talking about the same thing.” Landon’s reported contempt would not be a surprise to anyone who’s experienced his clumsy, often insulting demeanor in his interactions with the public. It may also explain at least a measure of the city’s perceived indifference to elderly concerns.
On the other hand, today’s meeting may also signal a shift. “You’re not going to go to this effort and get this kind of feedback and get somebody to facilitate and not take it seriously,” says Bryan Hensley, ElderSource’s director of planning and programs, who facilitated the meeting. He said it was the city, through Boyer, that approached ElderSource, initiating the effort, not the other way around. That shows at least the intent to get something accomplished, in Hensley’s view.
“There’s clearly some frustration, and Alex understands that,” Hensley said of Boyer after the meeting. “He’s trying to do what’s in his purview to do something about it.”
Boyer said the city is planning ahead so as to have programs in place when the rebuilt community center opens in about nine months–an indication that Palm Coast may want to blunt criticism of a lack of a designated senior center with richer programs on offer that could render moot the need for such a center.
Half an hour into the meeting, Josephine Zanella, who’d attended many Palm Coast council meetings, said she’d heard many similar proposals before. “Everybody listens to us, but nobody does anything,” Zanella said. She came from a town with five senior centers within a five-mile radius, with numerous services, from health clinics to clubs. In Palm Coast, she said, back at the community center, when she’d attend some activities, she and her friends would be forced to put out the tables and put them back when they were done. “We don’t want to do that. We’re 80 years old. We’re retired,” she said. She also spoke about the need for transportation. “We don’t want to drive, cause accidents. So I beg of you to listen to us. We ae the forgotten.”
But there was also another recurring echo to the requests, demands and complaints: several people spoke of many existing services, activities and organizations, scattered though they may be, whether at the public library or other government buildings, churches or Florida Hospital Flagler, which has or hosts several elderly-focused programs. The problem, many people said, is a lack of communication and coordination. A lot may be happening, but many people are unaware.
“There’s so much in Palm Coast that we offer,” Bernie Kershner, a member of the city’s leisure services committee, told the crowd. He suggested looking up the city’s web-based calendar. “You’ve got to get out there and find out what’s going on. This meeting is one of the best way for us to voice our opinion, and if you think nothing is going to happen, then you’re being a little negative.”
“I have to say, I never heard that we had that committee,” a woman said after Kershner said. “There’s something wrong with the communications.”
To be better informed, people suggested mailers, television, a “senior section on the city’s website”—or on this site–and, oddly, establishing a newspaper focused on the elderly: several times, people said the city had no newspaper it could call its own, two weekly newspapers that are “wobbling along, trying to make an effort.” Aynne McAvoy offered to continue this meeting through Facebook for everyone, going as far as offering to set up a Facebook page for the collective.
But there was also a degree of unawareness. “I’m amazed at what happens here,” a woman said. “Adult Education. Absolutely essential. We have no adult education in this community. It’s a shame.” But there is adult education: the school district runs an entire division focused on that. The same woman said “the government” should have a committee of seniors to tell the government what’s needed. That’s what the city’s leisure services committee, which organized today’s meeting, is about.
A woman said she’d just lost her husband to Alzheimer’s. She wanted to know where she could go to meet people. Joanne Gracie-Campos, the organizer of the Sunshine Social Club said she had 100 members right now. “Unfortunately I can’t accept more, we have limited room” where the meetings are held. She wanted to know how her organization would be able to use the city’s community center, and when she said, “we need a designated senior center,” the room erupted in brief applause for the first (and what would be the last) time this morning.
“Regardless of facility,” Linda Levin, executive director of ElderSource said, hoping to steer the discussion away from the issue of senior centers, “what is the programming want?” She spoke of the desire for socialization programs, the opportunity to meet people, having a kitchen, cooking, eating, dining. “What we want to hear is what do you want in the way of activities.”
When a woman said “transportation,” several “yes” were heard scattered across the room.
She said she was “appalled” that people are unable to get elderly day care because of waiting lists or unable to get meals on wheels. “That’s unfathomable in this day and age, in this community, with the wealth that we have,” she said.
A man read from a list of needs he’d written up: Card and game opportunities, language classes, beginning painting classes, low-cost food, access to outside agencies on a periodic basis such as the hospital, the assisted living facilities, tax assistance, insurance and Medicare assistance. If those services were to be provided, the man said, “I don’t want to have to drive all over town to 16 different places to get them. And you can’t provide me with the transportation to do that.”
A woman spoke of the struggle to live on Social Security in Palm Coast, and the need for people in the community “who are willing to provide pro bono services.” She did not mean legal services, but handyman-type “Mr. fix it” services. That got a swell of approval.
Time would pass, people would make more proposals, and again, someone would say: “The time has come. We do need a senior center.”
Perhaps some of the people in the room remembered the last time Palm Coast directly addressed the matter of senior centers: in 2005, the city held a referendum on building two senior centers, but at a cost: the referendum was asking voters whether they’d approve the bonds necessary to finance the program. The bonds would have raised taxes. The referendum failed with 60 percent of voters against.
The meeting began to lose steam and audience members at the 60-minute mark, though it went on after that for another 30 minutes.
“This is just the first step,” Boyer, the city’s parks and recreation director, said, with another such meeting quite possible, and a discussion of topics discussed today at the Sept. 13 meeting of the leisure services committee.
It’s about time people are standing united and letting local government know they are not happy with being treated like mushrooms….fed bullshit and kept in the dark. Elected officials need to remember they were elected by the people to represent the people and work for them. This is our city, not the city of a handful of select narcissists.
R. Hicks says
“Mr. fix it” services, not in Palm Coast, the Sheriff puts them in jail.
Robert Lewis says
How many senior centers are in flagler county? Why hasn’t flagler county built any senior citizen centres
Is there no Uber? Is there no Lyft? Are there no Cabs or FCT busses? How much transportarion do you need? There are art classes , cooking classes , so much to do, Is there a reason these people can’t just look online and find things to do? Palm Coast has catered it’s whole being to the elderly and this is the respect they give back?
Pretty typical of the Boomer generation to ask government for more and more while complaining about taxes being too high. Has anyone thanked you lately for leaving mine and future generations $20 trillion in debt and climbing. History will not be kind to your time in power.
Active Adult Center, Center for Balanced Living…consider a name other than senior center. If you name it something that will attract adults of all ages, you’ll get more participation, and perhaps the younger “seniors” can help the older “seniors.”
The word “senior” can be a loaded term. Most people don’t think they are “old” until they are at least 75 years old (and those who are that age often don’t consider themselves “seniors” – even if they are using all those senior discounts).
Robert Lewis says
I want Palm Coast government to do my food shopping and deliver it to my house. But don’t you dare raise my taxes one penny. I am not paying high taxes when you won’t deliver my shopping list to me.
Excellent point, Jan. How about a center for ALL ages with focused activities for different age groups. . . and maybe on a schedule to fit. A facility that would provide healthy activities for the youth, as well, would be beneficial for the entire community.
Percy's mother says
I’m tired of hearing the complaints for a “senior center”.
I don’t see why government should pay for a senior center.
Retirement is a thing of the past. In my opinion, people retire way too early and then find themselves socially isolated . . . not the problem of the government or society at large but an individual issue.
Turn off the TV. Get off the computer. Get a dog and go out for walks and you’ll meet lots and lots of very nice people you wouldn’t otherwise have come across sitting in the house vegetating in front of the TV and computer. Daytona State College has a very good program for seniors (yes you’ll have to research that). Also, they have FREE movies/classic films on Wednesdays in a very nice and comfortable theater. There are many things available to do without burdening the government with a “senior center”. It’s not everyone elses problem because a lot of you chose to retire too early and become socially isolated.
No one is forced to retire. If you chose to retire too early and choose to live on a “fixed income” that should not become an issue for government and for society at large.
Wish I had known about this meeting in advance. There is very little offered for seniors in this area. Things that are available are private gatherings which require finances. This becomes difficult since most “seniors” are on fixed incomes. Apparently the local governing body appears to have the last word. Instead of spending all that money to create the multitude of flowers & trees on Belle Terre and Route 100 with irrigation systems, that money could be put to better use in serving our community and our elders!
Barbara Kipnis says
Yes, we have Adult Education. But compare today’s offerings to those 10 years ago. Very few classes and no advertising. Only 6 classes that are not Sports & Fitness. And of the 18 S&F classes, only 1 is for seniors! No music. No computer. No dog training. No Mah Jongg/Bridge. No language. No nature. A small box in the Observer saying “Go to the website for the Adult Education schedule” is not adequate! Remember when a multi-page schedule was delivered to each mailbox?
O how I love the term “fixed income” when used by seniors. Aren’t we ALL on a fixed income? I don’t think many of us have unlimited funds!
Aynne McAvoy says
This was a well attended meeting and many good ideas bounced around. I think most of us were in agreement that while we need our OWN senior services center, we also need a place to meet while that plan is developed and manifested in our own building. It also has become very evident that if we truly want our own building, that it is up to us to make it happen. Fund raising, buying land, more fund raising, getting grant money, shovel in the dirt and brick and mortar building of our own. And yes, I am currently working on a facebook page for seniors to come to – to plan, discuss, and share ideas. I am in agreement that the words senior center might be a turn off…so I am now considering the name Flagler County Wisdom Center for the Facebook page. Stay tuned.
Denise Calderwood says
Anne Nicely put. We have a small center that we just opened and the program is called Senior Matters and now we have another initiative called Seniors on a Mission to accomplish getting something done regarding a dedicated place where all the information can be found, with a meeting area, case management, a place where one can sign up for benefits (called an Access center) and senior employment opportunities being offered through AARP. And today a group of meeting attendees toured existing spaces as well as spoke to a builder about building our own dedicated place that would only cost $500,000 to build… and it would meet all the requirements outlined to meet Accreditation standards by the American Council on Aging.
Many of us might not have “unlimited funds” but alot of us have much less then others! When you have to chose to take your medication every other day to stretch the prescription so that you have enough money to buy groceries…now there is reality for alot of elders! Many are not aware of resources for assistance. “There but for the grace of God, go I”. It clearly doesn’t work to judge….lest yea be judged.
Denise Calderwood says
Recently the Seniors of New Smyrna had the same problem when they built the Brannon Center a $13 million center at the place of their old dedicated senior center but their Council made the right decision to fund a $750,000 dollar new building and it will be done in six months. But I guess all of our City’s extra money is going to Jim Landon to keep him on for the next two years so that he can continue to ignore the wishes of the community he represents… And FYI not that many seniors even use computers yet alone Twitter and Instagram or for that matter know how to use Windows 10. And Adult Education through the school system, well that is a topic for the next community meeting since the majority of their classes are cancelled due to a lack of participants – that is probably because they got rid of the paper mailer advertising them due to cost of mailing or printing. And for the record, the wishes of the Palm Coast Leisure Services Board are ignored as well just asked several members of the committee who tried to be active members but their opinions were ignored and so they resigned their seats. Seniors Matter can be reached at 386-263-3154
DEE k Griggs says
Palm Coast definitely needs an indoor public pool for people with health conditions or on medication that requires them to stay out of the sun.
Senior Single Dances, cook outs ,etc.
Public Bus Transportation
Upset Senior says
A parks recreation professional would know how to meet the community’s needs without question. Giving restrictions is a Landon thing. The director should automatically take a senior survey and program according to that without question. Then there should be a survey done with local senior housing communities and a partnership with Shine to be able to accommodate everyone. Partnerships also work with those senior communities for transportation to and from the programming at no cost to the City. All if these request are possible if you had true parks and recreation professionals running the City’s Department. Instead you have a soccer guy and an uneducated girl who thinks she knows it all. Good luck palm coast.
Lovely Lady says
Percy’s Mother – How do you know everyone who is retired did it earlier than you think they should have. Are you assuming you know everyone’s situation? There are mulitple reasons why people retire – health, being forced out of your job because of your age, family issues, etc. So, do you think it instead of asking for a senior center or more programs we should get a job?Then you’d be complaining that we took a job away from someone who really needs one.
I’ve been working since I was 12 years old. When I was 18 I got a “real” job. I have been paying state and federal taxes since 1966. Who do you think paid for your kid’s schools, your roads and your infrastructures? The seniors and before that their parents. Everytime there was a vote on a school tax to help boost programs we always voted for the increase. Not because we wanted to lay out more money, it was to help the kids. Now we have no kids and we’re still paying for yours.
I have never once been on welfare or collected unemployment benefits. Instead, I’ve just put money into the system. So don’t you think that maybe asking for a senior center is a drop in the bucket compared to what we have contributed all these years?
So before you go and make your smug remarks, think about it. And, by the grace of God, you grow old enough to become a senior citizen, I hope you remember what you said in 2017.
Palm Coast is a retirement community. It already caters to seniors. If they actually took the time to look around and stop complaining, they would see that this city is an oasis for the elderly. It has nothing to offer those under the age of 50 though.
Transportation services are badly needed in this town. Senior programs to provide adequate socialization, counseling and nutrition are always a good idea for any town, let alone one with as many seniors as Palm Coast. A counseling component can help evaluate the need for services before situations reach the crisis stage–and that saves money in the ling run, as well as lives. But we must also balance the needs of our seniors with the needs of other-age populations, lest special interests and bitterness tear this town apart. There are many Assisted Living facilities being built in this town and such services should not be exploited as “day care dumping grounds” do that the facilities don’t do what THEY are supposed to do for the residents paying dearly for admission to these facilities. That does NOT mean that seniors living in these facilities should be barred but duplicate services should be avoided. Good current AND long-term planning is needed before money starts getting thrown around.
Can’t we use part of the over priced community center for senior’s to use.At least I will feel my tax money wasn’t wasted.How about the old ITT building that the school board hastily demolished.
Percy's mother says
Dear LOVELY LADY
I AM a senior citizen AND past retirement age AND still working a 40+ hour week AND have been working since a young age AND, AND, AND . . So . . . I speak from experience.
I understand your viewpoint though. Rather than take responsibility, it’s everyone else’s problem (government, no social services, no meals on wheels, no transportation). These are things to be thought about BEFORE retiring.
I refuse to be a senior citizen complaining about my plight in life. Hence the reason I continue to work and will ALWAYS work . . . for the social interaction, for the financial reward, for the simple fact that I have to get up every day,get dressed, and get OUT of the house. It keeps me active physically, mentally and intellectually.
Yes, LOVELY LADY, your whole post fell to the wayside because I AM A SENIOR CITIZEN.
DEE k Griggs says
For Percy reguarding get out and walk your digs, they need to put sidewalks in the Quail Hollow Community unless your fog let’s you pull off all the stickers and what I have been informed are Hitch Hikers , I won’t walk my dog over here due to no sidewalks .
DEE k Griggs says
I live close to the Senior Center on Belleterre, when passing my observation is that it appears to be a Day Care for Seniors , not a senior activity center, dances, dinners, cards, we need an indoor pool . A lot of people on medications can t be in the sun on meds. If there is a request for s center for all ages Why does Palm Coast not have a YMCA , with fitness room, indoor pool, racketball, running track, day care for infants through pre K . Public Bus Transportation, yes there are taxis, uber, lyft. But $20. 00 to go one way to say Kohls from Target is pretty expensive. The little Flagler County Bus that you have to call days ahead or a week ahead doesn’t quite get it, you may feel like going someplace one day or evening but not feel up to it a week later. There is a word called Spontaneity. Discount rates for Mr Fix It, Discounts for Seniors meeting guidelines that might help with auto repairs, hearing aids, dentures, Bus trips to places . Dances , dinners, activities . Were not all dead or in diapers or have dementia , we has careers , we have gotten older is all, we most of us worked since 16 years,old and paid taxes. Flagler County taxes are not decreased much for seniors, and we sure didn’t earn the kind of $ during our work years that people working today earn. TV, Internet, Electric, Water cost the same if your on a limited social security check verses those who fiances are quite comfortable. Some of us seniors helped support our parents and wiped out savings we had. Or some illnesses knocked out savings even though you worked all your life. EVERYONE WALKS IN DIFFERENT SHOES
YOU CAN’T ASSUME SENIORS ARE ALL IN A STATE IF DEMENTIA OR DIAPERS OR THAT THE OTHERS ARE UP TO 5K ,10K BIKE RIDES . There are those in between .
Percy's mother says
I’ve taken time to compile just a few activities that range from relatively inexpensive to FREE, which are available to seniors in this area. It’s a lot (as you’ll read below) but perhaps It’ll give the seniors who have nothing to do here in Palm Coast some ideas.
Café 101 is a teaching café and kitchen operated by Daytona State College students, under the supervision of our chef instructors. Café 101, which has been highly rated by the Daytona Beach News Journal, is open for lunch Monday through Friday with seating times of 11:30 a.m. or 12:00 noon and dinner on Wednesday evenings with seating times of 5:30 p.m. or 6:00p.m. Café 101 features a fixed-price menu of $11 for lunch and $15 for dinner (including tax). Patrons receive an appetizer, entree, dessert and beverage. Vegetarian meals are available by request. Gratuities are welcome and help fund student scholarships. Credit cards are accepted. Reservations are required, reservation line is (386) 506 – 3859. When you step into Café 101,you enter an environment that rivals some of the finest dining establishments in Central Florida. A peaceful, comforting atmosphere combines with the aromas of gourmet delights.
While visiting Café 101 stop by the Coffee and Bakeshop located in the main lobby where you will be tempted by the Sweet Confections prepared by students in our baking and pastry classes. We also have great coffee and lattes at unbeatable prices. Stop by and see what’s brewin’ today.
(How about reserving for lunch and then going next-door (same building) to see a FREE film Wednesdays, I believe)????
W.I.S.E. (Wisdom in Senior Education)
Our mission as friends of the Foundation’s Wisdom In Senior Education program is to support Daytona State College as an academic center of excellence in our community, to promote and share the resources of Daytona State with the community, and to provide learning opportunities to the community in a non-credit format.
Thank you for your continued interest and support.
The WISE program is offered by the
Daytona State College Foundation to
promote and share the academic
college resources with our senior
community, providing learning
opportunities in an enjoyable format.
The WISE program
• Open to seniors 50 and older
• Low annual membership fee
• Easy to join
• Access to college facilities
• Educational seminars
• Refreshments provided
Call Suzette Cameron, (386) 506-4506
The Southeast Museum of Photography exhibits, collects, preserves, and interprets photography to facilitate teaching and learning at Daytona State College, and enhances the community’s understanding and appreciation of culture, history, art and photography.
During the Fall and Spring SMP presents a film series curated by Sr. Professor of Photographic Studies, Eric Breitenbach. Screenings take place on select Wednesdays at 2:00 and 6:00 p.m. in the Madorsky Theater. Admission is FREE!!!
COMMUNITY EDUCATION COURSES
classes for all ages and skill levels
The Southeast Museum of Photography offers workshops that are designed for adults of all ages and skill levels. Get started with a new set of skills or develop your knowledge further with tips and techniques from professionals. Due to limited space, pre-registration and payment is required at least 24 hours in advance. To register for a workshop, please contact Christina Katsolis by phone at (386) 506-4569 or by email at [email protected].
Daytona State College Foundation
1200 W. Int’l Speedway Blvd. Bldg. 100 / Ste. 302
Daytona Beach, Florida 32114
Phone: (386) 506-3195 | Fax: (386) 506.3014
The EMMA Concert Association
Although EMMA has been doing business for years as the EMMA Concert Association, the organization’s original name was Emil Maestre Music Association. Started by a small group of music lovers, among them Frieda Bringmann and Irene and Peter Allemano in April 1979, the organization was named after a famous Spanish cellist, Emil Maestre, who retired to St. Augustine. EMMA was incorporated in September of the same year. EMMA has always been a nonprofit all-volunteer organization with a mission to produce quality music and dance performances at modest ticket prices. Since then the organization has lived up to this commitment and never failed. The volunteers serving on the EMMA board of Directors change as times goes by, but they all embrace the work with the same enthusiasm and spirit of accomplishment that bonds the group together.
In 1989, the volunteers felt a little overwhelmed by their duties which resulted in the formation of the EMMA Guild under the leadership of Jane Cassell Sims. Today the board and the Guild work hand in hand and the wheels of EMMA turn in sync to produce one successful concert after another.
Originally EMMA held concerts in many different places in town including the Lightner Museum, the Presbyterian Church, Kirk Auditorium (The Florida School for the Deaf and Blind), the Episcopal Church and the Riverview Club; it was not until 1993 that EMMA found a permanent place for its performances. After forming a partnership with Flagler College, the Lewis Auditorium at Flagler College has become EMMA’s home.
This concert season EMMA has produced an Evening Series of six performances and a Holiday Pops concert. In addition to these major productions, each winter EMMA presents a series of four Words and Music concerts in the beautiful Flagler Room in the main building of Flagler College.
EMMA also brings concerts to local school children and supporting music education programs in schools.
The EMMA Board is responsible for programming, finances, ticket sales, concert operations, publicity, advertising, publication of brochures and the EMMA playbill “Footnotes”. Also among the Board’s duties are Sponsorship and the ‘Gift of Music’ Endowment Fund. The EMMA Guild organizes the Opening Night Gala and a Spring Fundraiser and handles sales of Footnotes advertising, concert ushering and mailings.
FLAGLER GROUP GATHERS TO DISCUSS HEALTHY FOOD OPTIONS
This was in the Wednesday edition of the community paper THIS WEEK. Read the article. Potluck dinners. 30 to 40 people attend. Visit their FACEBOOK page. “Flagler County Vegan Dinner Society”. READ THE ARTICLE.
I took the time to compile just A FEW things that are available for people of all ages (including seniors). Sometimes it just takes using some initiative (not a senior center).
Hallelujah! Finally someone recognizing that the director is in essence a glorified soccer coach who “somehow” went from supervisor to director within months without an ounce of qualifications.
The City bought a Tennis Center. The City bought a Golf Course. I suggest neither benefits all Citizens. I propose the City purchase the OLD tennis center property and create thereupon a multi-generational entertainment complex (the PC MGEC). There’s a pool; there could be paint ball and a skate park for the young, mini-golf for families and mint juleps beneath the majestic oaks for “matures”. Imagine Palm Coasters of all generations meeting and greeting. Imagine the tourist revenue generated by all of those visitors at the beach when they find that little glossy flyer in the rack (with 50 others) at their hotel/condo and say, “WOW, there’s something for US in Palm Coast!” Imagine.
Fun4All, dreaming, but its cool . I’d like add, no crime at all. But one we all will be old and classified as seniors. Its going to happen. Count on it.
An active Senior Center, which also hosts an adult day care center, will bring all those other wishes to fruitation.