Food Project says thanks
December marked a great ending to another record-setting year of giving for the Ashland Food Project. And we thank our neighbors in Ashland for their growing support of the project.
Our donors contributed over 32,000 pounds of nonperishable food and warm winter clothes to the Ashland Emergency Food Bank. That bounty will go to help single moms and their kids and seniors living on fixed incomes in both Ashland and Talent. For 2017, a record 274,000 pounds was picked up and delivered to the AEFB (over 1 million pounds since our start in June 2009).
The Ashland Food Project thanks Paddington Station for sponsoring our December Thank You! card.
In November, the AFP held a citywide donor drive called Blitz 2017. In a couple of hours on a fridgid Saturday morning, nearly 300 new food donors were signed through door-to-door canvassing or at signup tables all around town. This drive brought our participating donor households to over 2800 in Ashland. Thank you Ashland!
If you haven't yet joined the Ashland Food Project you could make it a New Year's Resolution. It's so easy to join your neighbors in supporting the Project and the AEFB. Just contact us at www.ashlandfoodproject.com or call and leave your contact information at 541-488-6976.
Management vs. facilitation
Since August, the Parks and Recreation Department’s management of Ashland’s Senior Program has impeded and will continue to impede that program’s ability to fulfill its purpose: to provide needed social services to Ashland’s eldest citizens. And since then, the mayor and council have proved to be diligently protective of a flawed bureaucratic process that is in direct violation of a principle of conduct set by professional program management: to never make any management decision that could impede the achievement of the program’s goal. A program’s goal is sacrosanct — except in Ashland’s Parks and Recreation Department’s minds.
On top of this, the mayor and council persist in holding the belief that a 2007, still-extant resolution (2007-14) gives Parks and Recreation “managerial control” of what is termed Ashland’s Senior Program. In fact, the resolution gives the Parks and Recreation Department “responsibility for facilitation of all senior programs and activities for the City of Ashland” and the limited “authority to create an advisory committee for the program” if one is needed. No managerial control is granted, just the responsibility to help the Senior Program reach its goal.
The current ad hoc committee appears to be engaged in a deceitfully planned dog and pony show to distract from the demise of a successful, needed city program with a lot of administrative flim-flam, and it was distressing to see, in a recent council update session, the mayor and some councilors graciously thank Director Black and Chairman Gardener for their work to convert a successful social assistance program located at the Senior Center — an easily accessible location offering specific activities and dedicated assistance from professionally knowledgeable social aid staff — into a problematic, multi-age, multi-sited adult recreation program.
So far this reorganization plan has misinterpreted Resolution 2007-14; done away with the social aid goal set in the 1973 resolution; spent taxpayer money on a mediator who can’t mediate a prime area of conflict; inspired Parks and Recreation commissioner recall efforts; resulted in a pending lawsuit for wrongful termination; and done harm to an unknown number of aged citizens now deprived of life-enhancing assistance. And our mayor and council are OK with that?
Time to pull together
Thanks to both Risa Buck and Stephen Jensen for their excellent guest opinions requesting the supporters of the Senior Center stop the attacks on the Daniel Meyer Pool project and the negative campaign to recall Parks and Recreation commissioners.
Most citizens of Ashland have been left disappointed at some time by a forced budget decision of the city, Parks and Rec or the school district. We win in this community when we pull together to support all worthy causes — something that happens time and time again.
When Ashland was faced with the closing of our high school track because the school district did not have the money to refurbish it, a small group of parents and community members turned our hurt, dismay and feelings of unfairness into positive energy of fundraising. As a result of community generosity, we raised over $370,000. Both the high school and the entire Ashland community have a new track.
If the advocates for the Senior Center do the same to help Parks and Rec cover some costs, I will personally pledge to donate — maybe even create a joint fundraising campaign benefiting both the Senior Center and the Daniel Meyer Pool!
The Ashland Senior Advisory Committee has recently ended its three listening sessions at the Senior Center. The advisory committee appears to be heading toward self-interest goals.
Many committee members provide services at the county or private fee-based levels. Shifting what was done locally to outsiders and/or a technocratic or fee-based method misses the human element, which is especially needed for vulnerable elder seniors.
The most meaningful statement made during the sessions was by Dorothy Parsons. She is a octogenarian who was on the laid-off senior staff. Her role was in part to visit the seniors who had lunch and/or activities at the center to keep in touch with their upcoming needs. She has lived in Ashland for decades and is known throughout the community.
At the listening session she said we must keep in mind the “human element.” The laid-off staff, all from Ashland, held the senior program’s mission to help seniors live independently in their homes in the highest regard. They protected the seniors and ensured that they received the help they required. The center was staffed five days a week. They were also there on their own time, visiting seniors in the hospital to ensure they had the help they needed to come home. The staff were there, on their own time, at seniors’ funerals when the deceased outlived their friends, and family were nowhere to be seen. The seniors were more than clients to the staff; they were fellow humans on a journey we all share.
And the laid-off staff had more than good intentions; they were professionals. They were highly qualified with years of experience and training in senior social services at the state and local level.