Milwaukee's Older People depend on Senior Centers for food, friendship and healthy activities

The Fight over Budget Cuts for
the County's Five Senior Centers

Milwaukee County has five Senior Centers - Clinton Rose, Wilson Park, Washington Park, McGovern Park and the Kelly Center. More than 7,000 older people come to these Centers everyday for lunch and activities.

Milwaukee was one of the first cities in Wisconsin to offer a congregate dining program to its older adult population and has been serving meals to seniors in community settings since 1973. The Senior Dining Program provides hot, healthy meals and gives seniors opportunities to socialize. Senior Centers offer exercise class, card games, crafts, health education, entertainment and company thanks in part to the 386 volunteers who gave 28,700 hours in 2016 to help with activities. More than 50% of the people at the Centers live alone and the Centers are their main opportunity to be with people and feel connected to the world. The AARP Foundation’s Connect2Affect  has called social isolation a “growing health epidemic” among older adults. It equates the health risks of prolonged isolation with smoking 15 cigarettes daily.

   However, In spite of the importance of the Senior Centers to   
   Milwaukee elders, County Executive Chris Abele's recommends
   that Milwaukee cut $200,000 from Senior Centers and eliminates
   4 full time positions including the coordinator of senior centers.
   He proposed these cuts in his 2018  Budget for the Department
   on Aging.

Another threat is the Strategic Planning process for Senior Centers underway with a small group of persons handpicked by the Department on Aging -- a planning process that excludes seniors. There are strong indications that the County Administration intends to close all the Centers over time to reduce County operational costs. The results of this so-called planning for the future is to be released to the County Executive in December and only later to the Commission on Aging which is the County's official representative group for Seniors.

At public hearings over the past month, senior citizens and supporters have opposed cutting back on Senior Centers but so far County Executive Abele isn't listening. We need to add our collective voice to the opposition and protect the Senior Centers.

The Clinton Rose event was spectacular.
A packed house and seniors demanding adequate funding!