12/27/2012 9:29:00 AM Rent hike at Senior Center too much for Catholic Charities
by DENISE MARTIN
The non-profit organization that runs the senior center in North Branch presented Catholic Charities with more than a 50 percent increase for kitchen rental in 2013 which Catholic Charities can’t afford. The organization is now working with regional nutrition program officials to find a new dining site-- but the availability of delivered meals will not be interrupted. One option being explored is a “dining club” system using vouchers cooperatively with North Branch restaurants. This senior nutrition program is used in Lindstrom and other locations in the east central region of the state. As officials work through this, meals will continue to be delivered to all existing diners, there just won’t be a dining site for a while. Lori Vrolson, Director for the Central MN Board on Aging, declared that the bottom line is no interruption in meals availability for senior citizens involved in the Catholic Charities program. Vrolson also stressed that anybody who is thinking about utilizing senior citizens’ meal services must not be discouraged. During the Holidays is when family members return home and see firsthand that mom or dad need help with meals, she continued. Or, they realize that trips to the grocery store have become dangerous. They see a lessening of their loved ones’ abilities in the kitchen. “We don’t want anybody to be discouraged from finding out more about how we can help,” Vrolson said. Call the Senior Linkage Line at 1-800-333-2433 or contact Catholic Charities at 1-320-229-4584 to find out which nutrition assistance services are best for your situation. As for the North Branch dining site issue, Vrolson commented that the rent Catholic Charities was presented is the highest, or among the highest, she has seen.
The rent was proposed to go up by $11.90 per month. Catholic Charities was also notified by the senior center board that they expected extra contributions for items such as trash hauling service, utilities, water softener salt, maintenance and for the “furnace contract.” The new total would mean the monthly cost for Catholic Charities to use the senior center space in North Branch would be slightly less than $2,100. Catholic Charities was paying $700 monthly in 2012. Catholic Charities sought out the Central Minnesota Board on Aging to help develop a new site to provide the congregate dining experience. Vrolson told the Chisago County Press there have been talks with North Branch school district, churches and the nursing home west of the freeway in North Branch, but to no avail yet. The senior center directors notified Catholic Charities that if the increase wasn’t agreed to-- the kitchen lease is terminated the end of the day December 31. The Press was unable to reach any members of the Senior Center Board of Directors to discuss the rent hike or the impact of the subsequent loss of the $700 a month the center had been getting from Catholic Charities.