We Need Your Support Now More Than Ever

I was recently asked this question: “How can we ask our members to renew their membership when the COVID-19 outbreak has affected our programming?”

My answer: “How can we not ask?”

In this time of great national difficulty, the BAS staff and board of directors understand what you and every member is dealing with at this time. Individually, our staff is going through the same challenges. We recognize that in addition to the stress of the situation, not having your activities, programs, workouts and connection to your BAS community is something you have missed.

Along with the personal toll the virus has taken on individuals and families, the pandemic’s impact has shaken nearly all sectors of American economic life, and member-based organizations like BAS are no exception.

When we were fully open, we were here for you. And now that the COVID-19 pandemic has altered our lives, we need your support more than ever. BAS is a nonprofit organization, one that is reliant on multiple funding sources to operate. One of those sources is member dues. Money collected by BAS isn’t retained in a reserve fund but is forwarded elsewhere to pay for printing, waste management, supplies, program expenses and insurance, among other fixed essential expenses.

We operate on a zero-based budget. Our expenses will continue through the COVID-19 pandemic and for years after. The pandemic has even required BAS to buy more supplies, such as masks and hand sanitizer, and conduct extra cleanings of common areas.

My confidence in the value of BAS membership is unwavering. We hope your support for BAS is steadfast, too. Here are some of the benefits of membership:

  • BAS provides substantial value for only $30/40 a year.
  • My team has been relentless in researching and providing timely, relevant information to help members survive and move forward.
  • We produce the Silver Notes newsletter each month.
  • We offer classes in person at the Center.
  • We provide daily meals for more than 100 people.
  • We offer programs virtually that you can participate in from the safety of your home when it is convenient for you.
  • We’re exploring ways to offer additional programs in a safe and healthy manner.
  • Whether in the past or today, Broken Arrow Seniors staff and board remain laser-focused on meeting the needs of and advocating for older adults and our community as a whole.
  • We are still proceeding with an additional building – pandemic or not – that will significantly add to your overall membership experience.

We are not offering pool, dominoes, cards, paper crafting or ukulele. And we have members who decided to no longer support BASC for that reason. For those individuals, I think their view of BASC was of a building that housed their activity – not a community of older adults.

We are operating this respected organization and moving it forward every day. We didn’t stop when COVID hit. And we haven’t stopped delivering on our mission promise.

We didn’t take a time out, and you shouldn’t either.

Your dues don’t support a building or a structure. Your financial contribution, or lack thereof, impacts the community that is made up of more than 2,000 adults over the age of 55.

We were here for you in March. We need you to be here for BAS in October and every month after. Here’s what some of our members had to day about why they support BASC.

Betty Eubanks was quick to point out the reason why she continues her membership and attends exercise classes: “I want to keep on living! If I want to keep on living, I’ve got to keep moving, and the Senior Center helps me do just that. Where else can seniors go to feel safe and be comfortable?” Betty added when asked why her ongoing support of the Center was important: “I want to be with people my own age when I exercise, and the Center is the only place that offers senior-specific exercise. I want the Center to continue to be there in the future for me and other seniors. The only way that can happen is with my support.”

Cecil Jones said: “When we were at the Center every day, we used to talk among ourselves about how lucky we were to have the facility, and we still look forward to when the pool room doors are open. I see the stats in the news just like everyone else, and I know it’s not a safe time for seniors to gather in the pool room. But we look forward to getting back, and I will continue to support the organization – even though pool isn’t offered right now – so when it’s safe, we can return.”

Patricia Finner said: “I appreciate what the Center is doing right now to keep members of the Center safe. By offering safe activities and following guidelines, the Center is looking out for people’s well-being. I think it is irresponsible for people to not pay their dues and support the organization because the Center is only offering limited services. The Center’s expenses have continued during this time as well. The annual dues are less expensive than one round of golf or one nice lunch. The Center is truly a bargain for the best services. The social environment and comfortable setting that the Center provides is wonderful. I can be with people that have similar interests and are the same age and background. The Center offerings are unmatched in this area. I want the organization to continue its mission, and the only way that can happen is with our continued financial support.” 

BA Seniors Is A Community – Not A Building

Last month, I gave a teaser that my new DIY project at home was building tiny picnic tables for squirrels. Yes, you read that right. Squirrel picnic tables.

We have a very friendly squirrel that lives in our oak tree; my spouse has named him Kevin. He prefers his endless buffet of Amazon-purchased treats. Despite plenty of acorns, Susan feeds Kevin a special squirrel mix she buys online. She’s found that he prefers peanuts – in the shell and salt-free. He doesn’t like corn, but he loves coconut clusters.

I don’t know if he likes Oreo cookies or Cheetos, and I’m not going to share.

Kevin is more than just a rodent with a good publicist. He’s become a part of the Simpson community along with our pets and the soon-to-be-migrating hummingbirds. Kevin positively contributes to Susan’s social and emotional health.

Susan asked me what my October column would be about. I told her that Kevin is a metaphor for community. She wasn’t convinced, so here I go.

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

First coined by the philosopher Aristotle, this phrase aptly defines the modern concept of cooperation, collaboration or teamwork. Prior to 2019, the Broken Arrow Senior Center was a fairly flat organization – meaning we managed people and programs – with a level budget and a slowly increasing member base.

During the past two years, we squeezed additional programming into an already tight schedule of activities. We had 40 people who wanted to take a class in a room that could only hold 20. We added dining capacity to feed 48 people. And some fitness classes had to spread into the kitchen/dining room, although not during lunchtime.

The barriers to growth were all building-related. We just didn’t have enough room.

Our mission stated that BASC “provides a safe place for older adults to be physically active and socially engaged.” That’s very specific. It also refers to BASC as a “place.” After all, part of our name is “Center.”

Since March 2020, my team has looked at BA Seniors differently, as an organization that fosters a sense of “community.” We’ve heard that from members, volunteers, corporate partners, funders and civic leaders.

We are no longer just a structure with walls and a roof. We are much more than that. BAS is more than the sum of its parts – members, programs, information, education and such. That was evident as we started reopening the Center in July. Members didn’t miss the building at 1800 S. Main St. They missed the community that is BAS. Your body missed fitness classes. Your mind missed the information and education presentations. Emotionally, you missed being around other humans with something in common – a (socially distanced) 55+ sense of togetherness.

The BAS mission has changed. Now it reads:

“We are the model in the region for promoting healthy social, emotional and physical engagements for adults 55 and older through programmed activities and social opportunities.”

That’s a clear definition of community.

We are a model. Other senior centers in the state have come to learn about our organization. Yes, we are breaking ground soon on an additional building – Senior Center East. We are expanding our “community,” not just adding an additional 12,000 square feet.

We promote healthy social, emotional and physical engagements. The “healthy” part is tricky during a pandemic. That’s why we don’t offer every activity – pool, dominoes and cards are still off the table – but we’re working at adding more, such as crochet, guitar and the fitness center. What members have told us the past seven months is that they miss and crave the social opportunities the BAS community has in abundance. It takes a team to deliver on our mission promise. I’ve had the privilege of being the BAS director for two years; some days it feels like two lifetimes. I know that success rarely happens by itself in the absence of focused team-building efforts and activities. This is why every team needs a focused leader who is able to deal with every aspect of teamwork issues before they become problems or obstacles.

As the BAS leader, I love the new mission statement. It fills me – and Aristotle, too – with a sense of pride and accomplishment. The BAS board of directors helped shape the new mission statement, the verbiage of which I’ve shared many times since I took the helm two years ago: social, emotional and physical health. I knew that BAS was more than a building – my parents told me so for many years.

BAS is not a building. Our sense of togetherness is bigger than that.

BAS is greater than the sum of its parts.

BAS is a community. We are because of you.

Medicare Is A Major Milestone: Open Enrollment Is Oct. 15 Through Dec. 7

Becoming eligible for the Medicare program is a major milestone in your life. The Medicare open enrollment period is upon us, and the pandemic is making evaluating your existing plan or initially signing up for a Medicare plan a challenge. What further complicates things is that these are conversations typically held face-to-face, which makes social distancing difficult. Some professionals are still meeting in person, while others prefer – or are required to have – virtual meetings using technology such as Zoom.

Here’s some basic information to assist you in starting your annual conversation:

Q. When should I join a Medicare advantage plan or Medicare prescription drug plan?

A. The best time to join a Medicare health or drug plan is when you first get Medicare. Signing up when you’re first eligible can help you avoid paying a lifetime Part D late enrollment penalty. If you miss your first chance, generally you have to wait until fall for Medicare’s annual open enrollment period, Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, to join a plan. During this time each year, you can also drop or switch your plan coverage.

Q. What is considered to be creditable prescription drug coverage?

A. It’s drug coverage that’s expected to pay, on average, at least as much as Medicare’s standard prescription drug coverage. It could be drug coverage you get from a current or former employer or union, or from TRICARE, the Indian Health Service or the Department of Veterans Affairs. If you don’t have creditable coverage, you may want to join a Medicare drug plan now to avoid the Part D late enrollment penalty, even if you don’t use a lot of prescription drugs. People who maintain creditable prescription drug coverage or who get extra help to pay for their prescriptions don’t have to pay this penalty.

Q. Is my plan right for me?

A. You should utilize the Medicare Plan Finder to compare coverage options and shop for plans. You may be able to find plans that cost less, cover your drugs, let you go to the doctors and pharmacies you want and offer extra benefits like vision, hearing, dental, prescription drugs or extended coverage when you travel. You can also get an estimate of your out-of-pocket costs and quality and customer service ratings from current plan members.

Q. How do I compare the quality of Medicare health and drug plans?

A. The Medicare Plan Finder at www.Medicare.gov features a rating system for Medicare health and drug plans.

 

Here’s How To Get The Most Out Of The Medicare Program

Remember these times to get the most out of Medicare and avoid late enrollment penalties:

Initial Medicare enrollment period. Most people get Medicare Part A – hospital insurance – and Part B – medical insurance – during this period. It starts three months before you turn 65 and ends three months after you turn 65. If you’re not already collecting Social Security benefits before your initial enrollment period starts, you’ll need to sign up for Medicare online or contact Social Security. To get the most from your Medicare and avoid the Part B late enrollment penalty, complete your Medicare enrollment application during your initial enrollment period. This lifetime penalty gets added to your monthly Part B premium, and, the longer you wait to sign up, the more expensive it gets. Find out if you should get Part B based on your specific situation.

General Medicare enrollment period. If you miss your initial enrollment period, you can sign up during Medicare’s general enrollment period, Jan. 1 through March 31. Your coverage will start July 1.

Special enrollment period. Once your initial enrollment period ends, you may have the chance to sign up for Medicare during a special enrollment period. You can sign up for Part A or Part B during a special enrollment period if you have special circumstances.

Source: Courtesy of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and WebMD

Virtual Content From The Senior Learning Network

“GOLD!”: A Virtual Tour from

Columbia State Historic Park

Thursday, Oct. 22 – 1 p.m.

During this virtual tour of the Columbia State Historic Park in Columbia, California, you will see the largest collection of gold rush era buildings in the country. The brick buildings that date back to the late 1850s to 1870s help tell the story of the diverse merchants and miners who helped create this once booming town. This tour takes you inside buildings and exhibits for a look at this bygone era that changed the lives of many and catapulted California to statehood.

Email ami@baseniors.org for Zoom connection details and to register for this session.

 

Eleanor Roosevelt: Partner in the White House

Wednesday, Oct. 21 – 1 p.m. – Part 1

Presented by the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library & Museum in Hyde Park, New York, this virtual session takes an in-depth view of the life of Eleanor Roosevelt, the woman, and wife of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Discover what life was like during the White House years of our 32nd president and the impact Eleanor had on his presidency and on the history of our country.

Email ami@baseniors.org for Zoom connection details and to register for this session.

 

Eleanor Roosevelt: Casting Her Own Shadow in the Post White House Years

Thursday, Oct. 29 – 1 p.m. – Part 2

After serving beside her husband, Franklin D. Roosevelt, during his presidency, Eleanor Roosevelt was a diplomat and activist and later became a United Nations spokeswoman. Presented by the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library & Museum in Hyde Park, New York, this virtual session will provide an in-depth view of Eleanor’s life following the death of her beloved husband.

 

Email ami@baseniors.org for Zoom connection details and to register for this session.