TREMONTON – By Cari Doutre – Feb. 24, 2020
The Bear River Valley Senior Center is just that – a community gathering place for local citizens over the age of 60, regardless of their residence.
Tremonton City operates and maintains the Bear River Valley Senior Center and has been for years. The senior center does receive some financial assistance from Bear River Area of Governments (BRAG), but that assistance doesn’t cover all their expenses, making Tremonton City pick up the operational shortfall.
Jenny Christensen, Director of the Bear River Valley Senior Center, and Marc Christensen Tremonton City’s Community Services Director, met with members of the Garland City Council on Wednesday, Feb. 19, to discuss senior center services and options for financial assistance.
Because the Bear River Valley Senior Center opens their doors to all senior citizens in the valley, it makes it difficult to determine how much of those costs for non-Tremonton City residents the city is covering.
The senior center won’t turn away senior citizens, but they also won’t turn away any financial assistance other government entities can give.
“We will not stop serving them,” Jenny Christensen said to the council.
Jenny Christensen and Marc Christensen came prepared for the city council with statistics and information to give a better view at the operations at the senior center.
According to that report, they estimate about 1,000 senior citizens use services offered by the Bear River Valley Senior Center per year. Jenny Christensen added that they see about 70 senior citizens, on average, come through their door per day.
While some are senior citizens are there for classes or activities, many are there to have lunch.
Lunch is offered five days a week (excluding holidays) and the senior center isn’t allowed to charge them for their meals. Instead, the senior center can only suggest a $3 donation to help cover the leftover expense after BRAG’s financial contributions. Those donations are simply that, a donation.
The Bear River Valley Senior Center offers a variety of different programs, opportunities, activities and meal options for senior citizens in the community.
“We really encourage them to come into the center and participate,” Jenny Christensen said.
They also provide transportation services for senior citizens in Tremonton and Garland City limits to and from the center for lunch. They currently do not offer that service for residents outside those city limits.
Among those services is Meals on Wheels, a home delivery program for home bound seniors to have meals brought to them, regardless of residence.
Jenny Christensen estimates the Meals on Wheels program offers daily lunch services to about 15 senior citizens, but according to the time of year that number can fluctuate.
The nutrition and well-being of those senior citizens is top priority, Jenny Christensen said. She added that it’s also important for those senior citizens to maintain their independence and, “in their own homes as long as possible.”
“We try to keep them as active as they want to be,” she added.
According to the statistics shown to the Garland City Council that night, they were able to give a percentage of senior citizens per residence, using the senior center’s services. It stated that 40 percent of those senior citizens are from Tremonton, 26 percent from unincorporated Box Elder County and 13 percent from Garland.
Box Elder County does contribute costs to cover unincorporated county residents’ expenses, Marc Christensen added.
“This is definitely a very good service and we should be helping,” said Garland City Mayor Todd Miller.
Miller added that the city could help get grants for The Bear River Valley Senior Center and match costs. However, he added, it’s an expense that would have to be looked at and put in Garland City’s fiscal year budget. Garland City’s annual budgets must be completed by July 1, 2020.
“Anything you can do to help would be great,” Marc Christensen added.
For those looking to volunteer at the Bear River Valley Senior Center, they are currently looking for an art instructor and a cooking instructor for senior citizen classes.
More information on the Bear River Valley Senior Center can be found on their website.