Health

Plans for new senior center announced in Linn County

Ovation, AbbeHealth project, to open in 2020

Attendees dance as the Buffalo Creek Band performs, during the weekly dance sponsored by AbbeHealth Mental Health and Aging Services in the Oaks Room at the Lowe Park Arts and Environment Center in Marion in 2017. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Attendees dance as the Buffalo Creek Band performs, during the weekly dance sponsored by AbbeHealth Mental Health and Aging Services in the Oaks Room at the Lowe Park Arts and Environment Center in Marion in 2017. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
/

CEDAR RAPIDS — AbbeHealth Mental Health and Aging Services hopes to open the doors to a new center for Linn County active seniors by 2020 — a goal of the organization since the only center in Cedar Rapids was wiped out in the 2008 flood.

Officials are still in the early stages of the project, which they’ve dubbed Ovation. The “new and innovative space,” as officials describe it, is designed to help retirees aged 55 and older in Linn County stay active in the community.

The first public announcement of the project came from Lindsay Glynn, associate executive director of AbbeHealth, who presented the concept during NewBoCo’s annual Launch Day in December.

“This is about the future and keeping retirees engaged in the community and trying to create that new vision of something that hasn’t existed before,” said Glynn in an interview with The Gazette.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 33,000 Linn County residents in 2017, or 15 percent of the total county population, were aged 65 and older. And with more and more baby boomers reaching retirement, the need for a centralized location for retiree programming only will grow.

Ovation aims to be a central location where individuals can take continuing education classes, find traveling opportunities or have a space to connect with others.

Officials with AbbeHealth — the mental health and aging services provider affiliated with UnityPoint-Cedar Rapids — are working to identify a physical location and build core services.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

They have not determined if they will renovate an existing space of build a new location. Once a plan is developed for the building, AbbeHealth will launch a fundraising campaign, said Kathy Horan, AbbeHealth president.

Horan said the city of Cedar Rapids and Linn County likely will provide resources for the center, but the type of support has not yet been determined.

They also hope establish partnerships with other social service agencies in the area, Horan said. Agencies can rent space within the location, creating better access to retirees in the county in need of financial aid, health care services or other supports. Officials hope bringing in other stakeholders will create a stable business model for the center.

“We’re talking about this being a one-stop shop for services in the community,” Glynn said.

The former Witwer Senior Center, at 303 Second Ave. SE, closed down after it was damaged in the 2008 flood.

Agencies — including Witwer Healthy Aging within AbbeHealth — continued to provide programs for retirees in the county, but services were spread across various communities.

“It has always been a need and a want in our community for a senior center, Glynn said. “Unfortunately, it’s been difficult to build a sustainable financial model for a variety of reasons.”

The Witwer Senior Center had been located within a county-owned and county-funded building, meaning agencies only had to fund the programming, Horan said.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Thank you for signing up for our e-newsletter!

You should start receiving the e-newsletters within a couple days.

However, with no county-operated space available for a new senior center, services were forced across various locations.

AbbeHealth officials said so far much of the planning process for Ovation has been involved in conversations with retirees in Linn County about a new center. In addition, Glynn said they hope to make the programming flexible as the wants of retirees evolve in the coming years.

“We’re being very careful to find out and create what people want, not what we think they want,” Horan said.

• Comments: (319) 368-8536; michaela.ramm@thegazette.com

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

CONTINUE READING

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.