Investing in Seniors
In 2017, King County voters approved a renewed and expanded Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy (VSHSL). The expanded levy increased support to veterans, servicemembers and their respective families as well as to the County’s vulnerable populations. The expanded levy also created new, dedicated funding to support King County’s seniors and their caregivers.
In 2018, VSHSL invested $3.5 million in one-time stabilization funds to 38 senior centers throughout King County. Investments helped senior centers enhance programs to reach more local seniors, make their facilities safer and more accessible, and purchase equipment and appliances. These improvements have and continue to play a major role in building local, culturally-appropriate capacity to serve those 55 and older and their caregivers and in increasing access and inclusion for more of our community’s seniors. Vibrant senior centers that welcome the full diversity of King County also mean better health outcomes for our seniors, as social isolation is correlated with poorer health, and increased access to senior center programming and resources, including those that may help seniors increase housing or financial stability.
Senior center improvements in 2018 ranged from installing hearing loops, automatic doors, and air conditioning, to updating roofs, floors or windows, and purchase of equipment and appliances. Investments in stronger data systems, transportation services for homebound seniors, the introduction of diversity workshops, and translation of materials for non-native English speakers are all improvements made through 2018 VSHSL investments.
2018 Senior Center Investments
VSHSL 2018 stabilization funds enhanced programs and purchased equipment at the Asian Counseling and Referral Service Center such as sticks for Stick Taichi and line dance classes. The programs provided fitness opportunities and helped seniors gather together with seniors in their community.
Power lift chairs, purchased with VSHSL 2018 stabilization funds, at the Auburn Senior Center help seniors with limited mobility transition between sitting and standing, promoting inclusion of all seniors in the center’s activities.
New flooring, funded by VSHSL 2018 stabilization funds, in Auburn Senior Center’s commercial kitchen has improved the operation of meal delivery services.
A new sound system, funded by 2018 VSHSL funds, has helped seniors who are heard of hearing participate in activities, including the popular karaoke days!
VSHSL 2018 stabilization funds helped Ballard NW Senior Center start new programming such as GenPride, install a new phone system, hire more reception support, expand their social services and translate senior center information into languages used in their community. The improvements helped to engage seniors and connect them to the communities they helped to build.
New chairs, funded by VSHSL 2018 stabilization funds, in Black Diamond Senior Center’s activity room mean more seniors can have the opportunity to participate in activities and connect with their neighbors.
Updated appliances, including a new stove and commercial dishwasher, financed by VSHSL 2018 stabilization funds, ensures operations run smoothly so seniors at Black Diamond Senior Center can comfortably enjoy activities and access services.
VSHSL 2018 funds helped Central Area Senior Center purchase a building permit for their parking lot and start new programs and gatherings such as an intergenerational program of youth and seniors, helping to decrease social isolation and provide a space for seniors to connect to their community.
VSHSL 2018 funds helped the Chinese Information and Service Center engage seniors in their community, helping them remain connected to the communities they helped to build. Seniors participated in a healthy cooking demonstration, intergenerational programs and holiday activities.
VSHSL 2018 stabilization funding helped the City of Burien Senior Program install a hearing loop system, an ADA-compliant door, and conduct a senior inclusion survey.
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VSHSL 2018 stabilization funds helped Des Moines Activity Center make critical repairs to their building and to launch new programs for seniors and their caregivers, including: replacing leaking siding, building a Caregiver Support Library and Property Tax Exemption program workshops.
VSHSL 2018 funds helped El Centro de la Raza host information sessions on King County’s Senior Property Tax Exemption. The sessions helped seniors learn about the property tax exemption and connected interested seniors with application support.
Before and after: Enumclaw Senior Center remodeled their office space, using VSHSL 2018 stabilization funds, providing a private and more accessible place for seniors to meet with service providers.
A new sound system, funded by VSHSL 2018 Stabilization funds, allows listeners of all abilities at Enumclaw Senior Center to hear. Not straining to hear increases comprehension and participation in activities, helping seniors feel connected and included in the senior center community.
Enumclaw Senior Center used VSHSL 2018 stabilization funds to purchase and install software that enhances the center’s ability to track senior center and activity attendance, helping them to better serve their community.
VSHSL 2018 stabilization funds helped Enumclaw Senior Center install a new sign in front of their senior center. The sign connects the center to the community and draws others to senior center activities.
New flooring, funded by 2018 VSHSL funds, in Federal Way Community Center’s Senior Lounge helps make the space more accessible to seniors with mobility challenges.
A new dividing wall, funded by 2018 VSHSL stabilization funds, in Federal Way Community Center’s community room helps the center serve more seniors at once.
Federal Way Community Center’s new kitchen equipment, purchased by 2018 VSHSL funds, helps the center’s staff serve their community’s seniors.
VSHSL 2018 stablization funds purchased a brand new sign outside of Maple Valley Senior Center draws in seniors to participate in the center’s activies and services.
Maple Valley Senior Center made their center safer and more accessible by improving the accessibility of their walkway, including a path to the nearby Veterans Memorial Building. VSHSL 2018 funds helped senior centers complete stabilizing maintenance projects.
Community members used to tell Greenwood Senior Center that they “didn’t know the senior center was there.” With a brand-new sign, funded by VSHSL 2018 funds, seniors in the community now know where to go for services.
Before and after: The International Drop-In Center remodeled their kitchen, including updating appliances and replacing the floor. VSHSL 2018 funds helped senior centers complete important maintenance projects that they may not have otherwise had the funding to accomplish.
Before and after: The International Drop-In Center replaced worn carpet that was a tripping hazard for seniors in the center. The new floors and fresh paint, funded by VSHSL 2018 funds, provide a functional space for the center to reach more local seniors with services and programs.
Social isolation is proven to negatively impact the health and well-being of older adults. The International Drop-In Center’s new bingo board, funded by VSHSL 2018 funds, enables more seniors to participate in the activity and promotes belonging through personal connection.
Issaquah Senior Center’s new windows and kitchen equipment, purchased by 2018 VSHSL funds, help to provide a comfortable place for seniors to access services and connect with their neighbors.
With VSHSL 2018 stabilization funds, the Peter Kirk Community Center in Kirkland installed a new sign. The sign makes the senior center building more identifiable, the center saw an increase in new participants after the sign was installed.
VSHSL 2018 stabilization funding helped Lake City Senior Center hold a meal program and a health fair. The meal program and health fair brought services and a place to gather to the seniors in their community.
Mt. Si Senior Center used VSHSL 2018 stabilization funds to renovate back offices into new programming spaces including a classroom and senior lounge in addition to addressing safety, accessibility, and efficiency issues. “Seniors love the improvements – it really shows that people still care about them.”- Susan Kingsbury-Comeau, Mt. Si Senior Center Executive Director
"The 2018 VSHSL stabilization funds helped NEST to build continuing program enhancements to reach many new members of our community. We offered 160 events and programs open to the public, free of charge, and 80 hours of individualized support for people facing challenges or isolation.” -Rachel Pendragon- NEST
The daughter of two NEST members who received due subsidies, funded by 2018 VSHSL funds, sends a note thanking NEST for helping her parents remain connected to their community.
New carpeting in the Northshore Senior Center coffee bar, funded by 2018 VSHSL stabilization funds, removed the tripping hazard caused by the old carpet and provided a safe place for seniors to participate in activities.
New AEDs, purchased by 2018 VSHSL funds, helps Northshore Senior Center be prepared in case of an emergency.
Social isolation is proven to negatively impact the health and well-being of older adults. VSHSL 2018 funds helped the Pacific Asian Empowerment Program offer programs to help keep seniors connected to their community. Seniors participated in a dance therapy class, CPR training, food bank and a radio community outreach and advocacy program.
Before and after: Flooring at Pacific Senior Center funded by VSHSL 2018 stabilization funds. Updated flooring plays an important role in reducing falls and facilitating movement for seniors with mobility challenges.
"The VSHSL 2018 Stabilization funds gave us an opportunity to look at how we fit into our community and how we can be even more welcoming to the older adults living in Downtown Seattle. It also helped us replace the dishwasher in the busiest kitchen in Pike Place Market!" -Mason Lowe, Deputy Director Pike Market Senior Center & Food Bank
"As the need/demand for Meals on Wheels increases in the Redmond/Sammamish area this new freezer, funded by VSHSL 2018 funds has enabled us to more effectively order, store, process and deliver the orders to our citizens! We are very grateful for the addition of this freezer and the positive impact it has had and will continue to have on serving seniors. The impact reaches out to the volunteers and staff at the Redmond Senior Center, to the Meals on Wheels partner, Sound Generations and to many homebound seniors. Thank you so much!" -Karen Phillips, program Coordinator for the Redmond Senior Center
VSHSL 2018 stabilization funds helped to remodel the coffee bar at Renton Senior Center. The Coffee bar provides a place for seniors to gather, helping to keep seniors involved in the communities they helped build.
A Hearing Loop is an assistive listening technology. Seniors with hearing aids at Renton Senior Center can now hear more easily in the center’s auditorium, large meeting room and two additional rooms, thanks to a newly installed Hearing Loop funded by VSHSL 2018 stabilization funds.
A new set of automatic bifold doors, funded by VSHSL 2018 stabilization funds, creates a safer and more accessible entrance for seniors into SeaTac Senior Program.
VSHSL 2018 stabilization funding helped Shoreline LFP Senior Center support additional social worker services, install new IT systems, and create a program to increase inclusion.
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"VSHSL 2018 stabilization funding allowed us to make improvements to our commercial kitchen, provide better lighting in our parking lot, lay new gravel for our Thrift Store parking lot, and install automatic doors for our main hall restrooms. All the improvements have helped with the accessibility of our building and made our members proud of the updated, beautiful space that we are so lucky to have!" -Kira Avery, Program Coordinator Sno-Valley Senior Center
“This one-time funding through the Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy in 2018 allowed us to dramatically expand our ability to serve immigrant older adults in our community, in particular the Ethiopian, Eritrean, Chinese and Latinx communities. We were able to develop new partnerships, strengthen existing community collaborations, make start-up purchases and conduct the comprehensive initial outreach needed to reach historically underserved seniors.” -Claudine Wallace, Sound Generations
Before and After: The tiles in the main room of the South Park Senior Center were broken and peeling. VSHSL 2018 stabilization funds helped replace the floor so the center could safely offer programs and activities for seniors in this space.
Social isolation is proven to negatively impact the health and well-being of older adults. VSHSL 2018 stabilization funds helped the South Park Senior Center reach out to Cambodian seniors in their community.
Sharon, the chef at the Southeast Seattle Senior Center, is all smiles using the center’s new dishwasher to provide meals to local seniors. The new dishwasher, funded by VSHSL 2018 stabilization funds, replaces a over 15 year old leaky dishwasher.
A new garage gate and ADA automatic door, funded by VSHSL 2018 stabilization funds, create a safer and more accessible place for seniors to park and enter Southeast Seattle Senior Center.
A volunteer who serves lunch at the Southeast Seattle Senior Center poses in front of the new pull-down window funded by VSHSL 2018 stabilization funds. The window, between the kitchen and social hall, decreases noise from lunch service, preventing the interruption of activities in the social hall.
Seniors at the Southeast Seattle Senior Center are enjoying their new space while playing chess. New flooring, funded by VSHSL 2018 stabilization funds, replaced worn out and popping tiles, creating a safer environment to connect with their neighbors.
VSHSL 2018 stabilization funding helped Southeast Seattle Senior Foundation-Brighton Village support meal programs, materials translations, and case management services.
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With VSHSL 2018 stabilization funds, the Tukwila Community Center conducted a needs assesment to ensure their programming was supporting social and community connections, offering opportunities to maintain and improve health and adding to the quality of life for the seniors in their community.
“VSHSL 2018 funds were tremendously beneficial to UIATF's Elders Program. It supported installation of a much-needed wheelchair lift, which made programming in our main location much more accessible to Elders with mobility impairments. It also supported additional staff time so that our staff could provide valuable social services, including home and hospital visits; regular Native arts classes and fitness classes; and critical equipment repairs and updates for our vehicles and IT, so we can safely transport Elders and support their information and referral needs.” -Julie Wilchins, United Indians of All Tribes Foundation
A field trip to see the blooming tulips in Skagit Valley was part of outreach, funded by 2018 VSHSL funds, to engage isolated, newly arrived immigrant seniors from Ukraine. Activities provide socially isolated seniors an opportunity to connect to other seniors in their community.
“We are extremely grateful for the 2018 VSHSL funds as we have been able to outreach almost 200 newly arrived refugee seniors and enroll 53 of them into our programs. We enrolled 16 more seniors after the end of the year, it was a result of the outreach activities of the previous funded year. Another huge success was to promote mental health services to the vulnerable refugee seniors and to provide services directly to 68 participants. These funds had a significant impact in improving senior services to newly arrived refugee seniors from Ukraine.” -Oleg Pynda, Executive Director, Ukrainian Community Center of Washington
2018 VSHSL stabilization funds supported outreach to engage new seniors in existing services including a meal program, socialization, fitness and education activities at the Ukrainian Community Center of Washington.
VSHSL 2018 funds purchased new computers and IT equipment. Vashon-Maury Senior Center staff can now more easily plan programs and activities and promote those activities to seniors at the center.
A new stove and cooking equipment purchased with VSHSL 2018 stabilization funds helps Vashon-Maury Senior Center serve meals to the seniors in their community
Before and After: VSHSL 2018 stabilization funds helped Wallingford Community Senior Center make critical wall and ceiling repairs.
King County Executive Dow Constantine meets a volunteer at Margie’s Café in the West Seattle Senior Center. VSHSL 2018 stabilization funds helped renovate the café, providing a welcoming space for seniors to connect with their neighbors.
The Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy will continue to support King County’s seniors through several strategies within VSHSL’s five focus areas: Housing stability, Financial Stability, Social Engagement, Healthy Living and Service System Access and Improvement. Find more information on the strategies that guide VSHSL investments in the Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy Implementation Plan.
The largest VSHSL strategy for seniors will use a competitive procurement process to provide transformational funding to competitively-selected senior centers to grow into vibrant and inclusive senior hubs that offer access and connection to VSHSL and other aging related resources to seniors and caregivers, expand outreach to isolated seniors, and support opportunities of engagement for the diversity of seniors in King County.
Starting in March 2020, households across our region and across the country will have the opportunity to participate in the 2020 Census. Your participation matters. Learn how you can promote a fair and accurate census at kingcounty.gov/census.