Did You Know?
Oconomowoc Area Senior Center is special for as many reasons as there are members. No doubt, seniors in other communities feel the same way about their centers.
But the Oconomowoc Area Senior Center, aka OASC, isn’t just special, it is very special in that it is not government-run nor government-managed. Only a few other senior centers in Wisconsin and the USA share that distinction. OASC was free and independent from its start in 1988.
This means members, through their elected Board, make the decisions. The elected representatives decide what activities will be pursued, what staff will be hired, when the Center will be open, and everything else about it. This is a rare privilege, indeed.
Most government-operated centers make every effort to be responsive to the needs of their senior participants. But the responsiveness is limited by state government mandates, insurance requirements, union agreements, and the need for consistent policies throughout all departments. OASC, with no such arbitrary restraints, has an unusual amount of freedom to pursue members’ wishes.
The other side of this coin of freedom is, as always, responsibility. Over the years, many members have stepped up, serving on the Board, Committees, and pitching in on specific tasks. Because of these volunteers, the Center serves its hundreds of members with one part-time paid staffer, a remarkable achievement.
The hours of volunteer service lighten the fiscal burden but do not eliminate it. Member dues do not begin to cover the challenges, so contributions are sought from the community and the members. The need to raise funds is probably the most demanding cost of the Center’s independence.
This is not to say that the city of Oconomowoc neglects the needs of seniors. Mayor Magnus has appointed a “Cohort Group” to help him choose senior priorities for city budgeting. President Ginni Hicks serves on the group, providing valuable input on OASC needs.
The message is clear - the Senior Center will always need “a little help from its friends,” but most of all, it needs the support of the “warm hearts and gentle people” it serves. After all, this is our Center!
written by F. Whalen / edited by H. Nelezen