Richard C. Yourga: Amherst Seniors Deserve Better

Published: 05/05/2022 10:41:20 Modified: 5/5/2022 10:39:49 AM Stay at home, mask up, get vaccinated, get boosted; these are reque...

Published: 05/05/2022 10:41:20

Modified: 5/5/2022 10:39:49 AM

Stay at home, mask up, get vaccinated, get boosted; these are requests that the elders have dutifully followed up over the past two years. Elders have shown perseverance in the face of social isolation, which is particularly debilitating for those who live alone.

Now that cases are down, the Amherst Senior Center is once again able to offer a variety of in-person activities. However, seniors feel that the space they are welcomed back into is not the same as the one they left.

The demands on the Bangs Center are great. Securing program space for the more than 5,200 seniors who live in Amherst can be a challenge. A challenge aggravated by a deficient kitchen space, rooms devoid of natural light and a lack of transport for people with reduced mobility.

Of the more than 7,000 square feet of building space at the Bangs Center, only 29% is dedicated solely to senior services. Perhaps you have seen the signs proclaiming “I am Herst”. Indeed, we are. Many seniors are proud to call Amherst home for its thriving arts and cultural spaces, emphasis on education, commitment to social justice, and idyllic scenery.

However, for many seniors, this feeling may sound more like “I’m hurt.” Hurt by a budget that only allocates $45.50 per senior, a fraction of what other local municipalities offer. Hurt by a lack of funding to support vital services. Hurt by inadequate program space.

All this while our neighbors are building beautiful new senior centers. Amherst can do better. The purpose of Amherst Senior Center programs and services is to enhance dignity, support independence, maintain health and strength, and promote participation of seniors in the community.

These goals cannot be achieved with insufficient space, limited staff and insufficient budget. Has the Senior Center had an impact on your life? Were you helped by a member of staff, did you have a positive experience in a course or program? Did you feel frustrated with some of the challenges we described?

We invite seniors to express themselves! Share your Amherst Senior Center stories with the City. It is only with your support that change can happen.

Dick Yourga


The author is president of the Friends of Amherst Senior Center. The other members who signed this letter are Mary Elmer, Norma Hallock, Mary Hough, Rosemary Kofler, John Magarian, Barbara Slovin, Dennis Vandal and Kay Weinberg.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Richard C. Yourga: Amherst Seniors Deserve Better
Richard C. Yourga: Amherst Seniors Deserve Better
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