Questions Answered and Funding Approved

November was an exceptionally busy month at the BA Senior Center.

Did you know that we now offer more than 65 activities a week? With the added classes that will be unveiled in January and an increasing array of seminars and workshops, that number will be close to 75 activities a week.

Even if math is not your forte, that’s easy enough to figure out – if, like me, you use a calculator. How about 15 activities a day?

With all this activity, there are a few important news items I need to share.

Questions answered. I’ve held impromptu Q&A sessions in several programs and common areas the last few weeks. One session lasted an hour, and each person’s questions were answered. In addition, a program request was made and the equipment needed to enhance their activity was delivered within a week. My team wants to answer questions. The only way we can do that is if people are willing to let us know what questions exist.

Come in to our offices – the doors are open, and we are happy to share what’s going on. If there are concerns, we will listen. If there are requests, we will be attentive and let you know what we can or cannot do. And if we need to find the answer, we’ll follow up with you. If you want to have Q&As be a part of your class or activity, we are available to come to you.

Funding approved. We received much-needed funding to replace the outdated and nonfunctional tables in the Center. We’ve heard from members time and time again that our tables are heavy and difficult to move. We don’t have a team of people to set up rooms, so most of the time we rely on our members to create the spaces they need for the activities they have scheduled. We listened and now we will fulfill your request. The tables will be rectangles, squares and circles. They will be lightweight, collapsible, storable and ADA-compliant. Our goal was to get tables that are much easier to move, set up and take down. We will also have carts to transport tables to different parts of the building.

More funding approved. If anyone has been to the Center on a rainy day and used the front entrance, you might be confused. That’s because when you are under the awning, you get as wet as you do out in the open. Just look up on a sunny day, and you’ll see so many holes that it looks like the ceiling of a planetarium. Those days will be over soon since we received funding to replace the awning. We will schedule the replacement as soon as possible.

Thank you. The Indian Nations Council of Governments (INCOG) is the funding entity that is making a nearly $24,000 investment in our Center for new tables and a new awning. We also owe thanks to the city of Broken Arrow, which invested in a new roof for the Center – which was badly needed and is much appreciated. The truly amazing thing is that the new roof went up over our nearly 20,000-square foot building in only two days. That’s impressive.

New open carry law. Safety is our No. 1 concern at the BA Senior Center. In response to the open carry law that went into effect Nov. 1, we want to remind members that the BA Senior Center is a city building, and firearms are not permitted on the premises. Please review the following Oklahoma statute regarding carrying a firearm.

Section 1277 of Title 21 of the Oklahoma Statute:

A. It shall be unlawful for any person, including a person in possession of a valid handgun license issued pursuant to the provisions of the Oklahoma Self-Defense Act, to carry any concealed or unconcealed handgun into any of the following places: any structure, building or office space which is owned or leased by a city, town, county, state or federal authority for the purpose of conducting business with the public.

Transit. The city of Broken Arrow and Tulsa Transit Authority have launched a Broken Arrow Transit Study. The final report will provide stakeholders, policymakers and the community with a realistic plan to enhance public transit in Broken Arrow and meet the needs of our residents. As a proponent of the transportation needs of older adults, I was asked to join the advisory group. The BA Senior Center’s members will have an opportunity to have significant input in the study.

My team wishes you all the best during the upcoming holiday season. We are thankful to have the opportunity to serve you throughout the year. Our goal each day is to make a difference in people’s lives. Thank you for being a part of making that possible.

You’ll See The Difference A Cataract Operation Can Make

By Sean Simpson

“You have cataracts.”

That’s what I was told this summer during my vision exam. I thought to myself, “You’re not old enough to have cataracts.” I was wrong, because most of us older than 55 are likely to be diagnosed with cataracts.

My eye doctor asked if my cataracts were affecting my quality of life – mainly reading and driving at night. I gave a big “yes” to both.

Cataracts can cause blurry vision and increase the glare from lights, especially at night. A cataract is a clouding of the lens inside the eye, causing vision loss, which glasses, contacts and LASIK cannot correct.

I had LASIK nearly 20 years ago, so I wasn’t frightened or concerned about the procedure that removes the clouded lens and replaces it with a clear artificial lens. The artificial lens, called an intraocular lens, remains a permanent part of your eye.

The outpatient procedure lasted about 10 minutes, but I was there 90 minutes, including pre-op preparation and post-op recovery.

My eye was dilated, and then I received a local anesthetic to numb my eye. Then came the sedative. I asked for an “elephant-sized” sedative to help me relax.

I don’t remember the high-frequency ultrasound device that breaks up the cloudy lens into small pieces, which are then removed from the eye with suction. Actually, I don’t remember the procedure at all. That’s a great reason why you have to have a driver to get you home.

I was prescribed three medicated eye drops to use several times each day for a few weeks. I also had to wear a clear protective eye shield while sleeping for a week after surgery. It wasn’t a fun pirate eye patch, but it did stop me from rubbing my eye and provided a barrier from my wife’s cats swatting at my face while sleeping.

I also got these really dark post-op sunglasses because you’re more sensitive to light for a few days. The glasses were a weird combo – part Roy Orbison and part Jimmy Houston. I didn’t want to sing or fish, though.

After the procedure, I had some minor discomfort for a few days – just some eye redness, itching and blurred vision. I had cataracts in both eyes, so I scheduled surgery in my other eye two weeks after my first surgery.

During at least the first week of my recovery, it was essential that I avoid strenuous activity, lifting more than 10 pounds, bending and exercising. That meant that for a few weeks I couldn’t change the cat litter, empty the dishwasher or take out the trash.

I sort of wish I had six eyes so I could have had a reprieve for a few more weeks.

As far as surgical procedures go, this was by far the easiest one in my life. Colors seem brighter, and

I’m back to 20/20 vision. Cataract surgery should never be looked at as an obstacle or met with fear and apprehension.

The decision to volunteer, like the decision to donate financially, is an emotional one

Last month I had the opportunity to open the mail and get a welcome surprise. It was a sizable gift from a thoughtful donor, a person I did not know. After further exploration, I found that this individual was not a member. She was, however, a local business owner.

I picked up the phone, called and thanked “Alice.” It’s amazing how many times I contact donors to say “thank you” and surprise them. I’ve been told many times that “no one’s ever called and thanked me before.”

How is it possible for a donor to know that their gift is appreciated and invested in a way that impacts not only the most people but affects people in a way that the donor appreciates? By having open, thoughtful dialogue, that appreciation hopefully leads to additional gifts of treasure, time and talent.

Alice and I visited for 10 minutes about why she chose to include BASC in her giving plan. We discussed a designated area where she’d like her gift to do the most good. Two days later, I welcomed her as a guest at the Center and gave her a tour. She had a lot of questions, and, before she left, she and her husband joined.

One of the topics we covered was how we are able to control our program costs. That opened the door to discussing that volunteers lead our activities and how my team finds private donors and sponsors to offset program costs. That results in a $0 budget line for most programs.

When I have a chance to talk about why the BASC is so unique, I never miss the opportunity to discuss what impact a $20, $50, $100, $250 or $500 gift can make. When I reach the $1,000 level, I transition into what a difference 1,000 volunteer hours makes.

A volunteer who gives more than 1,000 hours of personal time to a nonprofit is vital – and is why our program costs are as low as they are. All told, so far this year, volunteers have made a $175,000 impact through their collective gift of service.

The decision to volunteer, like the decision to donate financially, is an emotional one. Volunteers are motivated by different things. People generally get involved for one or more of the following reasons:

  • They want to contribute to a cause in which they believe.
  • They’re motivated by a desire for change.
  • They want to have fun and enjoy what they are doing.
  • They want to meet new people.

In 2020, you will see a public commitment to our members and to providing opportunities for volunteers to give of themselves. This initiative is being led by members of the Center, members of the board, as well as community partners. There will be a significant amount of change and a new, formal program that will provide opportunities for many new volunteers.

Our volunteers are proud of their own accomplishments and work hard to improve the experience of every member. Welcoming new members will be an extension of that commitment.

Before we get to next year, we will take the opportunity to thank and publicly recognize the efforts of our volunteers who go above and beyond. The Broken Arrow Senior Center’s board of directors will host a Volunteer Appreciation Ice Cream Social on Friday, Nov. 22 at 2 p.m. in Heritage Hall. BASC board members want to personally thank the volunteers who help make BASC the best activity center in Oklahoma for older adults.

“Board members want to give back to the volunteers who serve as activity leaders and help according to board member Lisa Ford. “They are always serving others, and this will give the board an opportunity to show our thanks. Our volunteers are a treasured asset, real gems in delivering services to our members.”

Ice cream and all the toppings will be available, and we will recognize the Volunteer of the Year. In addition, door prizes are to be awarded during an interactive game. It will be a calorie-free (not really) fun time. Volunteers are a tremendous resource. We would not be able to offer programs or serve our members without their hard work and dedication.

They reduce costs through their work and provide essential services to our members because of their passion for the organization’s mission – to create a safe place for older adults to be physically active and socially engaged.

If you plan to attend the volunteer appreciation get-together, please sign up in the office.

I Have To Ask The Question – Why?

 

You see things; and you say “why?”

But I dream things that never were; and I say “why not?”

– George Bernard Shaw

 

Last week, I was asked to explain what I do. I help create a safe place where older adults can be physically active and socially engaged.

Sure, I raise money, write articles, set up tables, introduce speakers and take out the garbage. But at the core of what I do – and why I wake up each morning – is to positively impact people’s lives.

A few weeks ago, a significant day came and went. No one baked me a (gluten-free) cake, brought me balloons or got me a card. That’s OK. I wasn’t expecting anything.

That same day, someone complimented a member of my team. It wasn’t a generic comment like, “you’re doing good job.” It was specific about why Ami was asked to speak to a group of potential members. That comment meant a lot to Ami, and I discovered – when Ami told me – that I’m a good coach and mentor but I’m not always great at handing out specific praise.

Ami probably wishes she’d never said anything, but I already knew that giving specific praise is something I have to constantly improve upon. Even more shocking – it is the exact same thing I desire. I want it from my family, BASC members, the board and even from my pets – who I know don’t talk.

Ami and I share some similarities. We both want to do a good job. So whether it’s a Bunco event, a newsletter or recruiting volunteers – we always want to do a good job AND we want to know specifically why it was good.

After the wake-up call, I took some time and reflected on exactly why the BA Senior Center board hired me.

I have vision – I see how things could be in the future (I’m not psychic). I know where the Center is today, and, in my mind’s eye, I can see exactly where the Center can be in 2022.

I’m driven by the achievement of goals and objectives. If I have a vision, then strategic planning provides the  structure for an organization to follow to get from where it is to where it will be in the future. I want to lead the BASC board, the members and staff forward to where we usher in an additional building with even more opportunities for older adults. To arrange things in the right way and to maximize the efforts to get there, I have to ask the question. … Why?

Part of implementing a plan is asking questions. I’ve always asked a lot of questions (ask my parents). I love to figure out why things are the way they are. If we feed 48 people lunch and have no more room for additional members to play bingo, why don’t we expand to 80 seats? Why do we go to the store twice a month for bottled water when we could buy more and make one trip? Why buy goods at an office supply store when they are 15% cheaper on Amazon and delivery is free?

However, the problem with asking “why?” is that many people don’t like that question. Much of the time, asking “why” results in change, and many people do not like change – they’ll even go out of their way to avoid it. I happen to love change because I’m flexible (not literally) and can easily adapt to new situations. Face it: We’ll never grow into a second building if we are unwilling to change.

Members who’ve spent time with me over the past year (hours – not minutes) understand my drive and desire. They understand that underneath the humor, sarcasm and purposeful strides, I’m deeply compassionate about others. I care about what the future holds.

After the last Birthday Potluck Luncheon, we received a lot of positive feedback from members – specific, meaningful feedback about programs, activities, speakers and the facilities. It was wonderful to hear and more exciting to see the difference that’s being made in people’s lives.

Earlier, I mentioned that a significant day came and went with no fanfare (or cookies). I’ve been at the helm at BASC for one year now. It is an opportunity that fills me with a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment and adds meaning to my life.

So thank you.

Do me a favor and look back at how far we’ve come and then try and see – even try to dream – where we can be in a few years. And if you can’t, then ask me and we can explore the possibilities together.