Ballard NW Senior Center is known to the community as “the friendly center.” Today, it continues to uphold its nickname, providing friendly service and limited programming for its members.
When the senior center locked up for COVID-19, only staff were allowed in the building. This meant that all volunteer duties had to be swapped around. All building-related volunteers like the kitchen crew, receptionists, fundraising helpers, and more were reassigned as lunch delivery drivers, phone friends, mask makers, and more.
Carlye Teel, Executive Director of Ballard NW Senior Center, recalls the early days, “This pandemic had turned everyone’s world upside down and the center’s world has turned upside down, too. We were having a great first quarter, marching along, offering our multitude of services, getting ready for our $pring for $eniors auction when the virus arrived, and everything ground to a halt. We had the challenge to quickly take stock and decide what and how we could safely provide what services we could.”
She goes on to say, “As the weeks wore on, we were able to add additional services and programs. Protocols were written for everyone’s safety, plexiglass shields were added, wipes and sanitizer stationed all over the building, distance markers both inside and out were established, and everyone was trained for proper safety processes.”
The senior center continues to provide take out lunches, which is an important time for people to catch up and say hi while remaining six feet apart. Additionally, the senior center is offering a few outdoor programs with a limited capacity of less than five people.
A member of the senior center writes, “I love this center. I never realized how much until I couldn’t take my favorite class, or sit with my friends at lunch, or… hear Carlye say, ‘This is the best Tuesday so far this year,’ and we all yell, ‘Until next Tuesday!'”
As for the future of Ballard NW Senior Center, Teel is optimistic and says, “I predict a rosey future for Ballard NW and all the centers. We do so much for so many, and as there is a vaccine or proven treatment, we will be able to reopen more fully and welcome everyone back. That said, we will also continue to offer virtual things as we have seen, and understand that this is a way to serve those that are more isolated. Things have changed, and we have changed too, and that will continue. We will just continually add what we can, and hope that sometime this fall we can move to the next stage, but it could be early 2021.”