The Redmond Senior Center was on the verge of closing earlier this year due to financial difficulties. But the center is now taking substantial steps to stay open and continue serving more than 150 seniors who rely on the center for warm meals and social activities.

The senior center’s board of directors is creating a strategic business plan that will outline goals heading into the center’s 70th year in 2019. A volunteer team of Redmond civic and business leaders is helping the board create the plan, which could be ready for the board’s approval by January.

Ted Viramonte, interim executive director, said the plan will include roles for the board and staff and determine what resources the center has to meet its needs.

The hope is to create a solid foundation for the future of the senior center, Viramonte said.

“We are in the formative stages right now,” Viramonte said. “We are deciding how we are going to do it.”

Viramonte, a former development director and mayor in Madras, was hired in June to help the senior center. He is using his experience from working with nonprofit organizations and government agencies to help keep the senior center open.

“The seniors are really emotionally tied to this place,” Viramonte said. “In some ways it’s their biggest meal of the day, and in other ways (it’s) some people’s only social interaction they get. It serves a real purpose on a variety of levels for a demographic group that can get lost in today’s fast world.”

According to U.S. Census Bureau data, the number of seniors in Central Oregon has risen dramatically in the past few years as overall population has continued to balloon. In Deschutes County, the number of residents 65 or older increased nearly 50 percent, from about 23,500 in 2010 to nearly 35,000 in 2016.

Redmond’s senior population is estimated to be 5,900, according to the senior center.

Viramonte said the increasing number of seniors makes it that much more important for the center to stay open.

He estimates the senior center serves between 2,500 to 2,700 meals per month. About 70 percent of those meals are taken to homebound seniors through the Meals on Wheels program.

“We serve a real need here,” Viramonte said.

The senior center is operating on an annual budget of about $250,000, and continues to actively fundraise.

A campaign is underway to raise $70,000 in honor of the senior center’s 70th anniversary. The funds will be used to upgrade services such as the Meals on Wheels program.

— Reporter: 541-617-7820, kspurr@bendbulletin.com

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