Camano Center works hard to keep seniors connected

The Camano Center is known for its many — many — activities, from hosting community dances, to the Women’s Expo, to the 55+ Resource Fair, to the center’s annual extravaganza, the Gala Auction.

But the Camano Center should also be known for taking care of its first priority, its seniors.

That care is demonstrated by two new programs that ensure seniors are not isolated.

One of the new programs was started in April and is called Camano Connections.

When senior members sign up for this program they get a morning phone call every Monday through Friday. Someone from the center can visit with them on the phone and check on their welfare.

“Some of our seniors are homebound and we’ve found they love the phone call,” Camano Center executive director Karla Jacks said. “It’s a social interaction and it’s a wellness check in case of a fall so it helps our seniors stay in their homes longer.”

The second program the center started is Community Worship Services, where seniors can attend church services at the center on Thursdays instead of Sundays.

Jacks found that because Island County Transit doesn’t run on Sundays, many seniors were missing out on their worship time. Now, services are held every second and fourth Thursday of the month and seniors who are housebound can contact Island Transit for curb-to-curb transportation.

The services include traditional hymns, a short sermon and time for prayers. Light refreshments are served.

Jacks said that though Camano Center is a community center that serves all ages, these programs serve the core of the center’s membership: seniors who make up 56 percent of the 1,702 members.

“The overwhelming number one concern is the isolation of seniors in the home and how to combat that,” Jacks said. “Doing the daily call and doing the church service is part of the way we are trying to focus help in that area with maintaining that connection.

“We serve the whole community. But our core mission will always be to take care of our seniors.”

The Camano Center is owned and operated by Camano Senior Services Association.

The center was built in 2001 to resemble a mountain lodge, complete with rock accents, and is maintained by a crew of volunteer master gardeners.

It’s designed to serve the whole community and does with a dizzying array of services, classes, programs and trips.

Jacks was hired in 2007and has seen the demand for services increase to the point where under her watch, the center’s hours have been extended to later in the evening. Now the center is open until 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays.

Jacks foresees no changes in the amount of services the center offers and said several of the top events are already planned.

For example, the Sixth Annual Gala Auction is set for Sept. 8. The theme for this year is “An Evening in the Garden” and includes a fancy dinner and silent and live auction.

This annual fundraiser is a key event for the nonprofit, which relies on fundraisers and its Second Chance Thrift Store for 95 percent of its operating costs, Jacks said.

Another big event for the center is the Women’s Expo, which is a celebration of women held on the first weekend in May.

The center’s past event had more than 750 people attend and women were able to shop at vendors’ booths, receive a free mammogram screening and take a Zumba class, among other offerings.

The next expo is planned for May 4.

Jacks also points to the center’s 55 + Resource Fair as another event that involves the whole community but still provides valuable service to seniors who can attend and learn more about social security, estate planning and other topics, and enjoy a free lunch.

The next fair is planned for March 2.

“We like to provide more education about medical needs,” Jacks said. “We have a lot of resources but for seniors, it’s sometimes knowing where to find stuff.”

Camano Center: 606 Arrowhead Road, Camano Island; 360-387-0222; www.camanocenter.org. (An incorrect phone number and address were listed on an earlier version of this article.)

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