Town Halls       History of Actions          Senior Voices      Ad Hoc Committee       Contact Us  

               Home         March 2018 Home            How to Help            Key Concerns            Latest News                                      Media            Resources                            Videos


Ashland's Senior Program is being dismantled





We are a group of citizens dismayed by the actions and methods that Ashland Parks and Recreation is using to dismantle the integrated social services of the Senior Center Programs.


What do you believe ... Words or Actions?

Words  APRC states that integrated senior social services will stay the same and the senior program is not being "dismantled."

Actions  The first actions APRC made was to destroy the senior program's holistic approach and effective social services. APRC laid off experienced Senior Center staff who have extensive knowledge and experience of its integrated social service senior program and replaced with inexperienced Parks and Recreation staff and volunteers.

APRC also moved the senior center program management and physical oversight away from the Senior Center to the Grove which prevents an holistic integrated approach.

Impact Dismantles the social services integrated program ... the hub of the holistic wheel ... and reduces the social services to handing out informational booklets ... and removes the personnel who know the difference. Essentially shreds the seniors' safety net built up and maintained over 43 years.

What is the real problem?

Differing Mission Statements  APRC and the Senior Program have different and conflicting mission statements:

Where the Senior Program's mission has been for the well-being and support of elders, the APRC's mission does not. APRC's mission focuses on park and recreation experiences.

Ashland Senior Program Mission Statement:

The Ashland Senior Program strives to provide a support system to the older residents of Ashland, helping to enable them to live more independently and to continue as contributing members of the community. The Senior Center provides a venue for social interaction through recreational and health related activities and educational opportunities.

APRC mission - in 2015-2017 budget:

The mission of the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission is to: Maintain and expand park, recreational, and educational opportunities and provide high quality, efficient and safe services with positive experiences for guests and other participants while maintaining community participation in the decision-making processes and protecting the environment.

So what effect do the conflicting missions cause?

Listen to Senior Manager, Christine Dodson explaining how the conflict causes problems in her responsibility and obligation to the senior program as it has been administered for 43+years. Then rather than acknowledging the problem, APRC's Director indicated it is her problem that she is transmitting to staff.

How does APRC say problem should be solved?

At the first APRC senior subcommittee, all agreed that the City should decide whether the Senior Program should be transferred back to the City before proceeding with APRC's evaluation of the Senior Program.

    Commissioner Gardiner

Commissioner Lewis

APRC Director Black

Councilwoman Seffinger

After the first subcommittee meeting no mention was ever made regarding the possible transfer of the Senior Program to the City administration. There was no public disclosure of the contact or communications between APRC and the City.

APRC Commissioners and Directors stated that since the Senior Program is under Parks and Recreation, the SeniorProgram should align its mission to APRC's mission and values.

Does the APRC have the expertise to manage the Senior Program?

Parks and Recreation staff have little or no experience in administrating the complexity of senior centers and programs.

Listen to Commissioner Gardiner compare managing a Senior Program to a swimming pool or golf course.

Listen to Commissioner Lewis discount the value of the Senior Program's non-recreational activities; not understanding the holistic approach or strength of partnerships with other parties.

Listen to Commissioner Lewis compare managing a Senior Program to a golf course.

Listen to why Commissioner Gardiner's does not feel the need to visit the Senior Center. He believes that people should come to him.

Does the APRC have anything good to say about the Senior Program?

All senior subcommittee members appreciated the 150 page Senior Program informational and statistics binder put together by the Senior Manager in six weeks.

Director Black

Commissioner Lewis

Superintendent Dials and Director Black acknowledge that Ashland's Senior Program is a good one.

What is the big deal about the Senior Center's Advisory Board?

During the first meeting of the senior sumcommittee a lot of time was spent taking objection to the Senior Center's informal advisory board. The subcommittee was inappropriately applying formal board policies. The Senior advisory board was a non-voting, non-decision-making discussion group. The Senior Manager considered their input and makes the decisions herself. While the advisory board minutes showed that the board believed that transferring to the City should be explored, no action was ever taken.

Senior Manager Christine Dodson on the history of the Advisory Board

Advisory Board Member Chapman

Senior Manager's reporting channels explained

Commissioners questioned why the Senior Manager did not come to them to discuss problems/needs. Dodson discussed the reporting structure and that she would not jump rank. Director Black confirmed that employees need to following reporting protocol.

Why is Director Black not disclosing all he knows?

APRC is going down a determined path to break apart the dedicated Senior Center, remove the current integrated social services from the senior programs, and scale them back. APRC’s action essentially rips out the effective holistic approach and shreds the safety net.

So what has APRC done so far?

APRC transferred the management and oversight of the Senior Program from its Administration Division to its Recreation Division. The Administration Division described the Senior Program in Ashland’s 2017-2019 budget as:

Now that the Senior Program has been transferred to the Recreation Division, the APRC senior subcommittee has stated a number of times that the Senior Program must be aligned with Recreation Division’s values and goals. Recreation Division is described as (Ashland’s 2017-2019 budget):

The Recreation Division provides recreational and educational opportunities for participants of all ages including aquatics, health and fitness classes, environmental education programs and lifetime activities.

APRC sees a need to re-structure the dedicated Senior Program, and make changes to staff job descriptions. APRC points to the 2016 Performance Audit observation that the senior population is under-served since the audit team believed that senior services could be expanded.

“While the current Senior Center program does also provide some recreational experiences for its participants, the project team believes there are opportunities to expand the recreation and leisure experiences offered at the center and, therefore, has identified senior citizen and the elderly as an underserved population group.”

The audit saw the value of the senior program social services and noted them as a positive feature. It recommended that APRC use existing staff to explore expansion ideas around the Senior Program’s core services.

Listen here to what the seniors had to say.

The dedicated Senior Program has been well run (with little oversight in the Parks Administration Division) and within budget for the past 27 years and was tracking to be below budget this year. It is amazing what the Senior Program accomplishes with the limited resources allocated to it. It has only 1.7 full-time equivalent employees and a $175,000 annual budget, which is 2% of APRC’s total budget.

The Senior Program, also overseen by Administration, strives to provide a support system for older residents of Ashland, helping them to live more independently and continue as contributing members of the community. The Senior Center provides a venue for social interaction through recreational and health-related activities along with educational and volunteer opportunities.

That makes no logical sense whatsoever, because programs always have the potential to expand; that is, a population is not under-served just because programs can be expanded. Also, the audit’s conclusion was not based on essential data analysis of age based usage for all recreation by APRC.

What the audit’s limited review of APRC’s Senior Program actually said:

"The APRC currently operates a Senior Center program, based in the Administration Division, with its primary focus to provide a much needed congregate and home delivered meal program along with utility discount programs, information and referral services and a variety of important social service programs."

The audit listed as a critical priority: “Conduct a comprehensive community needs assessment process to identify underserved groups and future recreation program interests and needs in the community.”

"The project team believes these recreational opportunities can be provided with support from existing center staff and volunteers ... "

The following information and audios are from APRC Senior Subcommittee meetings

held from January to August 8, 2017

Situation as it was on August 8th when APRC's senior subcommittee approved their recommendations

History of APRC Actions