Earlier this year, the Seneca County Commission on Aging sold its Riverside Drive building and moved its offices and meal site to Somerset Reception Hall on Huron Street. ECI had vacated the offices at Somerset and relocated to the former Clinton School. The smaller Essex building also was empty.
Bryan Glover, COA director, said he and other employees and volunteers went to work making repairs and painting, to give the offices a fresh look. Phone numbers from the organization have been kept.
The tables were rearranged in the large hall at Somerset prior to the fall fish frys. In the kitchen, partitions were removed to expand the work area for food preparation and packing meal boxes and trays.
"Our plan was ... to have our senior meal site in the banquet hall over there at Somerset, where we have the fish frys," Glover said. "It's just so big, it's not very intimate. It's not very cozy."
From there, Glover took inventory at Essex and decided it could be a better place for congregate meals with some cleaning and painting. Employees also added wood trim and window treatments. Artwork, televisions and furniture from Riverside Drive were spruced up and moved in. Each table is accented with a small, seasonal centerpiece.
"Wagner's did the flowers for us. They did an amazing job," Glover said.
The food served at Essex is to be prepared at Somerset and brought over for the 30 or so clients in the congregate meal program. The seniors have been over to see the project and are anxious to move in after the health department's approval. Glover said some exterior grading was done to keep moisture out of the building, and more outside work will be done next year.
The COA's Homemaker Program is being phased out as of Dec. 31. Having existed before Glover became director, that program provides bi-weekly cleaning for about 100 area seniors. Over the years, funding has dropped off, and other agencies now are offering the services. Glover said the two homemaker employees are to take other positions within the agency. The COA will assist homemaker clients in obtaining services from other agencies.
"Years ago, we were the only ones providing homemaker services. Since that time, there are a lot more organizations and companies ... providing it," Glover said.
He said COA has become good at nutrition and meal services, so the focus will be on that area. Reports show more than more than 600 fish dinners were served at the two fall events. Glover said it was a good opportunity to test the new "traffic pattern" in Somerset and utilize the new fryer. He hopes to replace other two older fryers with newer, larger, more efficient models in time for the bigger crowds at the spring events.
The Somerset kitchen has been rewired for better lighting and more electrical outlets. San Gregory Refrigeration is installing a freezer purchased last year from one of the school buildings. Glover said a larger kitchen is needed because of record service numbers for Nutrition Services.
Seneca County is one of two vendors providing shelf-stable emergency meals for clients in multiple counties. In addition to the familiar Meals on Wheels, the Home Style Selections program has grown "exponentially." That operation offers clients a month's worth of frozen meals, and participants can choose from 12 different meals.
"We got a lot of requests for breakfast menus, but, number one, we had to find menus that met the dietary requirements for the state, and number two, find things that lend themselves well to freezing ... and reheating," Glover said.
The breakfasts are expected to be available in 2014. Employees have been working around the kitchen construction to make extra meals for the holiday period when no delivery will be available. In 2012, the COA prepared and delivered 115,000 meals. Already this year, from January through October, more than 118,000 have gone out with November and December not yet on the books for 2013.
"We've already beat our record in the first 10 months of the year. I anticipated we'd get about 120,000 this year, but it looks like we're going to be closer to 150,000," Glover said.
Hall rentals also have been a financial success. Glover said the hall is occupied for regular week-night events, such as bingo, and receptions are booked nearly every weekend.
In September, the COA received a letter stating a grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation had been awarded for the purchase of a handicapped van with a ramp. Glover said the van is to be used for the Fostoria office. He said the Fostoria Foundation had provided half of the commission's matching funds for the 80-20 grant.
"We got the grant but we've not received the vehicle yet," Glover said. "We're still patiently waiting ... I know the people in Fostoria are really excited about it."
For more information about the Seneca County Commission on Aging, its programs and services, visit its Facebook page, www.seneca-coa.org or call (419) 447-5792.