Guest Opinion: Senior Center satisfaction was high, not low

Why does the Daily Tidings report Christine Dodson’s claims as "allegations" in past articles, yet report Michael Black’s claims as "new information?"

Where is the evidence that the center was performing "under the level of satisfaction?" All surveys found high levels of satisfaction.

The Mail Tribune reported that “Black said Senior Center staff operated without much oversight or approval from parks department management.” Does Black forget that he is ultimately responsible for oversight and that Superintendent Dials and then Commissioner Seffinger regularly attended the senior advisory board meetings under Christine Dodson?

The 2016 audit Black refers to actually says “The project team believes these recreational opportunities can be provided with support from existing staff ...” Where is the evidence of Black’s claim that there was “previously strong staff opposition to change?” What changes were directed by top management that were not followed? At the subcommittee meetings Christine Dodson’s comments were positive and constructive. She gave ideas on new activities, increasing revenue, partnerships, grant submissions and community surveys and completed every task assigned to her by the committee in a professional manner. She welcomed expansion.

Here is one example of Christine Dobson’s constructive input. A commissioner questioned the value of the Foods & Friends program since it was not a parks program and did not bring in revenue. The subcommittee had talked about other senior centers that made revenue from cafe-style operations. Christine Dodson commented that the Food & Friends program brought in many seniors to the center who then participated in other activities and allowed the staff to keep apprised of their ongoing needs. Food & Friends may provide the only good meal that the seniors have for the day. Does Black consider this a change that Christine Dodson resisted?

It has been reported that the Ashland Senior Center services a high percentage of seniors over age 80, and an unusually high percentage of moderate-to-high risk seniors. Are these vulnerable seniors using the senior center as a "club" as Black suggests? Black and the commissioners' idea to charge membership fees is more in line with a “club.”

Obviously Black and the Parks and Recreation Commission did not recognize the crucial nature of the local social services of Ashland’s highly successful and robust 43-year old program.

— Christine Meredith is a Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance volunteer counselor at Ashland Senior Center.

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