We Always Strive To Make Our Mission Meaningful

As a nonprofit business leader, I wake up each day ready to make a difference in our community by creating a safe environment for individuals over the age of 55 to be physically active and socially engaged. That mission promise is what we face every day – virus or not.

Like most individuals and businesses, each day brings with it new statistics, guidelines, regulations and rules of engagement. The Broken Arrow Senior Center has dealt with the COVID-19 incident head-on, all the while reinventing how we deliver programming to our members.

Regardless, the last 110 days have been challenging.

The next 110 days will, no doubt, be challenging as well.

Will COVID-19 infections go up? What about hospitalizations? Fatalities? Will COVID disappear?

It seems nearly every conversation I have, the topic of the coronavirus comes up. My stock answer to the question of what I’ve learned during this time – “It is easy to close the Center. It is difficult to open the Center.”

Re-opening is not a matter of just unlocking the doors.

As we move closer to a re-opening date – partial on July 6 – we must have a thorough re-opening plan. It’s essential that we determine how to provide programs and services while keeping our members and staff safe. In this newsletter, we spell out what members will experience coming back to take fitness classes. That explanation is on page 13.

We have to provide an environment that delivers options for our members at the same time we have measures in place to protect our members. The person ultimately responsible for keeping you safe is – you.

Last month, I wrote that there are no sounds of feet on the floor exercising. No strumming from guitars or ukuleles. The pool balls are put away. Scissors, glue guns and sewing machines are in cabinets. And the sound of dominoes moving across the table is nonexistent.

Members are waiting for all those activities and more to be available and accessible. Our struggle was to determine what could be offered that still follows the national and state re-opening plans.

We’ve begun the process of re-assessing the future reopening of the Center. My team and the board hope that will occur on July 6. That is, if the COVID-19 numbers do not continue to escalate.

Many of the ways we’ve conducted business in the past few months, by creating an alternative delivery of our member experience, will be looked at for solutions moving forward. The process will be slow, systematic and will ultimately ensure the safety and security of everyone at the Center.

We do know that some of the delivery options that have been offered will continue after we open. We will keep a limited number of fitness videos and continue to utilize Zoom technology. Business will be conducted a little different in the short-term and possibly for the foreseeable future.

Those options will continue to be offered because, in talking with our members, many of you do not feel comfortable returning to the Center until later in July or into August and September. That’s fine. Because as I wrote earlier, the person most responsible for keeping you safe is you.

Some of the warnings indicate that people over the age of 55 should avoid being in enclosed spaces and should avoid extended contact with other people. That is where the most risk of infection lies.

When we reopen for fitness classes, they will be held in Centennial, which is 3,200 square feet. The class size will be 30 max, plus the instructor. That is one participant per 100 square feet.

We asked other senior centers across the country what their re-opening plans looked like, and they were nearly identical to our own. When we look to move to Stage 2 and 3, we will be confident our plan is sound, and we have comfort in knowing that the experience we provide will closely match that in other centers in the country.

So in answer to your questions: No, dominoes, creative writing, pool, quilting, singing, crochet, photography, poker, guitar, ukulele or bingo will not happen on July 6. Be patient – as you’ve been the past three months – and those activities will resume soon enough.

I ask that you respect the difficult decisions that staff and the board have made, and trust that we will collectively continue to do the best possible job we can in hopes that you’ll have the best experience that you can – one that involves the physical activity and social interaction you’re used to having, but with safety and security measures in place to protect you.

Be patient. Be smart. Be safe. Be thankful.