The Center Is Closed; Our Mission Continues (Safer At Home)

On behalf of my entire team and the board of directors, we hope you are healthy and staying safe.

Thank you for your calls, notes, dues renewals and especially the donations. Please know we are addressing your individual questions as fast as we can. Email is the most reliable way to contact us since we are not coming into the office every day. We are very appreciative of your support and kindness as we strive to deliver on our mission promise to provide a safe place for older adults to be physically active and socially engaged.

The Broken Arrow Senior Center’s doors are closed, and the building is open only to staff and others by appointment. The lights are off, and it is eerily quiet. The silver lining is I haven’t been asked to adjust the thermostat in Centennial for more than two months.

There are no sounds of feet on the floor exercising. No strumming from guitars or ukuleles. The pool balls are put away. And the sound of dominoes moving across the table is nonexistent. And there have been no automobile accidents in the parking lot in more than two months.

We thank you for keeping us in your thoughts. It’s been challenging and exciting since we closed mid-March, trying to decide how to provide programs and services while keeping our members and staff safe.

Today, we have more than 55% of our program offerings available to view online – like exercise and fitness classes – or to participate in a Zoom teleconference call. We had eight members in the Creative Writing class that met last week on Zoom, and there’ve been hundreds of views of the line dance, yoga, Zumba, limited exercise, tai chi and Fitness for Ladies classes.

At the end of April, we had the awning at the front of the building replaced. No longer will you get wet under the awning, and, looking up, it doesn’t look like a planetarium anymore.

We’ve provided more than 520 meals for our members – a mixture of frozen meals and shelf-stable meals. And organizations like BA Rotary, Brookdale-Broken Arrow and Lefty’s restaurant have even provided fresh meals for our members. If you are interested in receiving meals, they are distributed every two weeks. You can download the nutrition application forms as well as new member paperwork at baseniors.org in the Nutrition and Membership sections. And you can contact Tulsa & Creek Counties Senior Nutrition at www.tccno.com or 918-835-4160 to get on the list.

Special thanks to the BA Police Department for helping make home deliveries for our members without transportation to get to the Center. The dedicated officers have helped 10 members get meals every week.

We’ve rescheduled our 30th annual Senior Health & Resource Fair for Aug. 14, and the Community Bunco Bash is June 26. We’ve reached out to all our advertisers and sponsors and contacted all new members to make sure they understand where our programs are listed. We’ve even been adding more than five new members a week – despite being closed. The building has been thoroughly cleaned. We’ve even completed our inventory and cleaned out our storerooms.

Even though the Center’s doors are closed for the time being, our mission continues through the efforts of our staff and activity leaders. They have been committed to inspiring you, as members of the Center, to stay engaged through these days of isolation. A variety of innovative ways for you to continue benefiting from your membership in the BA Senior Center are listed in this newsletter.

In the face of this challenge, we will be resilient. We will endure. We will take care of ourselves. We will help one another. And we will emerge from this time of uncertainty and upheaval with a chance to build a better future.

Stay safe my friends!

The Center Is Closed; Our Mission Continues (Re-opening the Economy)

 

 

Almost every COVID-19 death in the state is attributed to someone over the age of 50.

On April 22, Gov. Kevin Stitt’s Advisory Group put forth the implementation of a three-phase approach to get Oklahoma’s economy started. The plan is based on scientific modeling from public health experts and is designed to mitigate the risk of the resurgence of COVID-19. It provides a detailed plan for the reopening of Oklahoma’s economy in phases that the city of Broken Arrow implemented.

“There is a risk of allowing a surge of new COVID-19 cases into the health care system that extreme social-distancing efforts were meant to curtail, said Dr. Bruce Dart, executive director of the Tulsa County Health Department.

“We ask that you remain diligent in your (social distancing) actions, otherwise the gains we’ve made in April will be for naught,” Dart added.

Governments can look at whatever matrix or metrics they want as they’re tasked with looking out for everyone in the communities they represent. We represent older adults over the age of 50, 55, 65 or 80 years of age. That is what we are telling people when they ask when we will re-open.

Are you aware that people over the age of 50 account for 57% – a little more than half – of the number of positive test cases?

And 95% of the COVID-19 fatalities are individuals over the age of 50? Yes, that’s right, 95% of the fatalities are over the age of 50.

So are you and I.

Almost every COVID-19 death in the state is attributed to someone over the age of 50.

 

As a member of the Center, you are much more than a $30 or $40 dues payment. That’s why we will be extremely cautious. We will only re-open when the risk of loss of life is no longer a concern.

The Center Is Closed; Our Mission Continues (Reopening The Center)

What will life look like at BASC when we re-open? Staff, activity leaders and the board are working on options. It’s possible that we’ll re-open with small groups of members. It will be easier to practice social distancing. We will no doubt insist that you wear a mask and possibly gloves. We may only open for limited hours or certain days. That would allow us to adequately clean the Center between uses.

We realize some members will be more comfortable coming back earlier than others – and that’s OK. I’m not going to be comfortable coming back until the number of newly diagnosed cases of COVID-19 and coronavirus-related fatalities have all but disappeared. And that’s OK, too.

I’m not going to ask any member of my team, any activity leader or any member to come back to the Center until they feel safe. We are offering virtual classes now, and we will continue with the choice of attending in-class or virtually for a while.

I’ll reiterate our mission promise again. It starts with “To provide a safe place for older adults to …” Whenever and however we open the doors to the Center, the safety of our members, staff and volunteers will be first and foremost in any decision we make. We will not open until we can assure you that you’ll be safe.

We are in regular communication with city, county and state officials. We are having conversations with other nonprofits in the state and are talking with assisted living and long-term care communities to understand how to proceed safely for the next few months. The Tulsa Area United Way and the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits have had training and seminars, as well as weekly updates on closures, disease spread and soon – hopefully – recovery.

When we do have a date to reopen, you will know. In the meantime, be safe, keep your distance and know we are here for you!

We want to welcome you back to the Center when it is time. We will look out for you. But you need to look out for you, too!

To do that, you have to keep yourself safe.

Sean Simpson, BASC Director

The Best and Worst of Times

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

– “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens

Dickens begins this tale with a revelation that human prosperity cannot be matched with human despair. I’ve always wanted to start a column with that quote, but I’ve never had the opportunity to do so – until now. We live in unprecedented times. Each day brings with it different rules, social isolation, financial upheaval and a general uneasiness. At the same time, each day brings hope, evolution, adaptability and progress. The words “pandemic” and “coronavirus” were not a part of our lexicon just a few months ago.

The Broken Arrow Senior Center was thriving. We introduced eight new fitness classes in January. We welcomed 70 new members in February. Our monthly Health and Wellness seminar presented by Hillcrest South was at capacity for the third time in a row.

Last month, at the time this newsletter was going to print, Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum and Broken Arrow Mayor Craig Thurmond told their communities to “shelter in place” and that everyone needed to stay home until at least the end of April to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

That plan doesn’t seem to be the new reality anymore, given the current spread of infection and more grim daily updates. Social distancing will no doubt continue into May and perhaps June.

We know times have been tough. In the midst of everything going on in the world, our nation and our community, we wanted to let you know we’re here for you. Our staff and activity leaders have been working hard to ensure you’re well informed and supported during this time.

The doors of the senior center closed on March 16 in an effort to be proactive in keeping members, volunteers, supporters and staff safe. Our mission is to provide a safe place for older adults to be physically active and socially engaged. When we closed the Center, our ability to deliver on our mission required different ideas, different thinking and will no doubt result in significant changes that will be felt long after COVID-19 is history.

It was a difficult decision to make because the Center is important to our members. It was, however, an easy decision to make because our members are important to the Center. We had been planning since the beginning of March to determine how we would change our operation given the potential spread of the virus.

The first thing we could control was noontime meals for our members. We provided lunch every day as curbside pickup. We made this change nearly a week before it was a mandate from the city of Broken Arrow. At the end of our first two weeks of curbside service, we changed again.

To better protect our members, staff and volunteers, we shifted lunch pickup to once every two weeks – on Wednesday. Members received a box with five frozen meals and a box with five shelf-stable meals. The next pickup is April 15 at 11:30 a.m. at the Center.

If you are over 60 years old and want to take advantage of the nutrition program, please visit www.baseniors.org to download the form under the nutrition tab. If you need to join the Center, the membership application is in the membership section. Bring the completed form with you when you pick up meals.

Senior Nutrition needs to know how many people are coming, so members should still RSVP at least a day before. Important: Requests to pick up meals on April 15 must be made by 11 a.m. on April 14 by calling 918-835-4160. If you are without transportation or homebound and need meals, call the number above to request assistance with home delivery.

Even though the Center’s doors are closed for the time being, our mission continues through the efforts of our staff and activity leaders. They have been committed to inspiring you, as members of the Center, to stay engaged through these days of isolation. A variety of innovative ways for you to continue benefiting from your membership in the BA Senior Center are listed in this abbreviated newsletter.

Many activities require access to a computer. This is an opportunity to become technologically savvy! Take advantage of connecting with others by using Zoom for video chats. If you only have a phone, you can join in on a group Zoom chat as well.

If you have a computer with internet access, links to our own Zumba Gold instructor, Linda Few, leading Zumba Gold and Chair Zumba classes, are available to you.

Now is your chance to reap the benefits of line dancing in the privacy of your own home by watching YouTube video links provided by Michelle Howard, our Line Dancing instructor.

Watch Jewelee Houston, our Line Dance for Fitness instructor, on YouTube or Gary Siftar lead our Limited Exercise class through a link on our website.

You can even play poker with other members, participate in creative writing and novel writing and learn more about crochet. These activities are meeting via Zoom in real time. If you don’t have contact information for someone you would like to check on or just talk with, contact Ami Bucher or myself. Although we cannot provide information to you directly, we will do what we can to connect you with other members. You can reach Sean at sean@baseniors.org or 405-642-0266 and Ami at ami@ baseniors.org or 918-938-1487.

We’re committed to bringing you – our members, volunteers and supporters – together while keeping you safe. We’re creating a world-class virtual experience that will leave you inspired and arm you with practical actions for your community.

In the face of this challenge, we will be resilient. We will endure. We will take care of ourselves. We will help one another. And we will emerge from this time of uncertainty and upheaval with a chance to build a better future.

Stay safe my friends!