This year Senior Services, Midland County Council on Aging (MCCA), marks 60 years of providing services to older adults in Midland County. Senior Services is dedicated to continuing the tradition of serving our community by promoting and enriching the quality of life for older adults and those who care for them by collaboratively providing meaningful services and opportunities. Join us in our celebration as we reminisce and look ahead at all the wonderful things to come.
Senior Services – How It All Started
The origin of Senior Services began in 1960 when an area study committee was formed to conduct surveys and prepare materials for President-elect Kennedy’s National White House Conference on Aging. The committee was called the Midland County Committee on Aging and Dr. Everett N. Luce was the committee chairman. On September 22, 1960, it was decided that the committee would form a permanent group called the Midland County Council on Aging (MCCA) and on March 5, 1963, MCCA became incorporated under Act 327 of Public Act 1931.
A Timeline of Growth and Opportunity:
- In 1964 the council started addressing the need for senior housing by sponsoring a senior housing project, Cleveland Manor, Inc. Upon completion of the project in 1968, it included 190 units available for low-income seniors in need of affordable housing.
- Congress passed the Older Americans Act (OAA) in 1965 in response to concerns by policymakers about a lack of community social services for older persons.
- In September 1966 a quarterly MCCA “newsletter” began publication.
- In 1968 a twice-a-month hot meals program began operation at the Centers with a charge of $.50 per meal.
- Transportation services began in November 1973. By January of 1974, an average of 15-20 trips were reached each day.
- The first daily dining center meal was served on February 25, 1974, with 200 attendees at a cost of $.75 each. We were soon averaging 75 diners at each site!
- MCCA’s first office was opened in November of 1974 in a duplex at 416 Mill Street.
- In 1978 MCCA began a Home Delivered Meals program.
- In late 1979, the MCCA board of directors decided to try for a senior millage request for .3 mills to be put on the ballot of November 1980. The request was taken to the Midland County Board of Commissioners.
The commissioners decided to put the millage question on the ballot, but also to create their own commission on aging to supervise aging services in the county. Following protests from MCCA and its supporters, the millage proposal was defeated by a two-to-one margin.
- In 1980 Dr. Everett N. Luce, one of the founding members of the Midland County Council on Aging, resigned from his position as the President of the Board of Directors after an impressive 20 years of service to the community.
- The Case Management program began in 1984 with one cCase manager and involved the evaluation and linking of adults in need with community services, as well as evaluating the effectiveness of the services provided.
- Home Care services began in 1985 and included providing light housekeeping for clients. In 1987 the program expanded to include in-home respite care for seniors and in 1999 personal care was added to the program.
- In 1985, the millage committee decided to place a request on the August 1986 ballot. On August 5, 1986 voters of Midland County approved up to .43 of a mill by a three-to-one margin.
- In 1995 Senior Services began offering Medicare assistance through a program known as MMAP (Medicare/Medicaid Assistance Program).
- In the 1990’s important discoveries and a better understanding of dementias like Alzheimer’s disease came to the forefront of the medical community. In response to that increased knowledge, Senior Services began providing services to individuals with dementia at Seasons Adult Day Health Services, which opened in August 1996 serving 12 individuals per day.
- In 2000 MCCA embarked on a project to build a new Senior Services complex, which would consolidate four sites that were housed in rented spaces. On November 30, 2000, a groundbreaking ceremony was held at the corner of N. Saginaw Road and Dublin Avenue which ultimately became the site of our current Administration Building & Trailside Center.
- In 2001 the Board of Directors voted to change the name of the agency from Midland County Council on Aging to Senior Services, to more closely mirror who we are and what we do.
- In 2004 Senior Services launched its first website.
- In May 2011, Seasons Adult Day Health Services, with the help of major funding from local foundations, moved into a newly constructed center at 4812 Dublin Ave.
- In 2013 the Everett N. Luce Community Champion Award was established to recognize individuals or organizations in the community that demonstrate outstanding leadership and advocacy for older adults.
- In 2016 Happy Diners closed and the Greendale & Mills Centers reduced their hours.
- Sanford Center experienced significant flooding damage in both 2014 and 2017. In 2017 it was decided that the Sanford Center building was deemed a complete loss displacing participants temporarily to Trailside Center.
- In September 2019 a new Sanford Center building and location opened.
- In March 2020 all Centers and most in-person services were temporarily paused in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the pandemic, Senior Services focused on providing services to the most vulnerable older adults and ensuring they didn’t experience an interruption to meal delivery, wellness checks, and transportation to lifesaving medical appointments.
- With the COVID-19 vaccine becoming available in January 2021, Senior Services partnered with the Midland County Health Department to host vaccine clinics which led to over 3,000 seniors receiving the vaccine.
- In April 2021 most Centers began offering in-person activities again, along with educational and fitness opportunities to participants.
- By March 2022 Senior Services returned back to pre-pandemic operating conditions resuming in-person lunch served daily at all Centers, activities, educational & fitness classes, tours, home care, handyman, care coordination, and more.
As we celebrate 60 years of supporting older adults in the community we look forward with continued dedication and hope for future generations to come. On Wed, March 15th Senior Services is celebrating its Diamond Anniversary with Better Brain Health, a dinner event held from 3:30-6 pm. We will explore how medications, food, exercise and more play major roles in benefiting, or detracting from, our cognitive function. To explore this important topic, join us for a special guest lecture, exhibitors, and a brain-healthy meal! Call 989-633-3700 or visit us online at SeniorServicesMidland.org to register.
The Evolution of the Senior Center
Before the Midland County Council on Aging became officially incorporated in 1963, Coleman had already organized a chapter of its own on October 10, l 962. When it first opened, it operated Monday through Friday from 10 am to 4 pm and grew from offering a potluck dinner once a month to a couple of times a week until daily meals were served in 1975.
The Coleman Center was busy with crafts, potlucks, entertainers, and game nights. It was evident that senior centers were beneficial to the community by providing a place for people to get together, socialize and stay active. So in 1974 another senior center, the Midland Happy Diners, was opened at the Memorial Presbyterian Church under sponsorship by the Midland Area Homes. The center provided educational programs, activities, and crafts several days each week. Later in 1974, another center opened on the lower level of the old Greendale School at West Midland Community Center, which was the beginning of the Greendale Center.
In 1979, the Mills Center started with a group of seniors in Mills Township that began meeting twice weekly for a potluck meal at the Mills Township Hall. The Council on Aging furnished the meat, coffee and tea. By November 1979, the site was averaging 26 diners per meal, with nine meals delivered to homes. In 1987 MCCA opened the Mills Friendly Folks Center at the Mills Community Center. On April 4, 1988 the Waldo Town and County Diners nutrition site was opened at the Salvation Army building on Waldo Road which later moved into the current Trailside location. Meal deliveries also began from that site, enabling all areas of the county to be reached.
While there was an MCCA chapter in Sanford as early as 1965, the actual site wasn’t opened until 1978. The Sanford Center has endured major flooding events over the years, most notably in 1986, 2014, and 2017. In June 2017 the Sanford Center building was deemed a complete loss due to the impact of each flood on the structural integrity of the building. Sanford Center participants were displaced and temporarily relocated to the Trailside Center location while a new building was constructed at a new location in a partnership between Senior Services and Jerome Township. With help from donations made by many local non-profit foundations, area businesses, and individual supporters, the new Sanford Center and Jerome Township recreational area opened on September 25, 2019. In May 2020 the new Sanford Center faced a once-in-a-lifetime flooding event with the failure of the Edenville Dam. Thankfully, the new building did not sustain damage and was able to serve the community as a place for those affected to seek shelter and pick up essential supplies provided by community partners and volunteers.
Today we have five Activity & Dining Centers spread out throughout Midland County. The Centers are still places for people to socialize, stay active and healthy, take classes, and be served delicious meals. But now even more opportunities await you! The educational offerings have increased with programs offered for many different interests, such as Art, Travel, History, current events, diversity, culture, health and many other special Lunchtime Learner topics. Evidence-based health programs are helping people reduce their risk of falling, help manage chronic pain, diabetes, and caregiver training with support from trained experienced professionals. We are always offering new entertainment, such as renowned musicians and theater groups, who perform right at your local Center!
As we look to the future of our Centers, we plan to offer programs, meals, and activities that people in our community want and need. We’d love to hear any suggestions you may have! Or if you have a talent, such as painting, writing, or special knowledge of a topic, share it with us by teaching a class or giving a presentation. Call Senior Services at 989-633-3700 for information on how to get involved and share your talents.