During the Yellow Medicine County Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, October 22, Community Education Director Tim Knapper and Senior Coordinator Jan Lerohl gave an update on Senior Advocate program.
Knapper said that there had been “a significant number of changes” since Lerohl took over the program last August. Shortly after Lerohl was hired, the Granite Falls was forced to consolidate its two meal sites into one as a result of budget cuts at Prairie Five (they contribute $7,500). He also explained that the program was losing several important grants - creating additional financial pressures. “Our budget has gone from about $33,000 to about $16,000” stated Knapper. The program is still serving the community thanks to approximately $11,000 the program receives from the city of Granite Falls and $5000 from Yellow Medicine County as well as in kind donations from the city as well as Yellow Medicine East such as building use, internet, and tech services.
“We were lucky to find Jan” noted Knapper, “She has does an excellent job”. The senior center below the library is still open thanks to volunteer labor and the programming and services have not declined even with recent constraints, other than the meal site moving across the road, which has shown minimal impact per Knapper.
“Our job is to reach out to older adults in our area,” Lerohl told the Commissioners. She said it was important to have a community partner that seniors could turn to for information, support, and resources.
“One of the main ways of doing that is communicating through the senior newsletter,” Lehrol added. She said that residents had to sign up to receive the information, and that for those who haven’t yet done this, residents can contact the Senior Advocate directly to be put on the mailing list. Lehrol said that she has been focusing on reaching out to the communities surrounding Granite Falls.