Note: The following March interview was conducted as part of my internship with the city of Oberlin Recreation Department in the spring of 2021. The question being asked: How can the city better meet the needs of its senior citizen population? In this interview I spoke with Stephanie Clark, former program coordinator at the Neighborhood Alliance in Oberlin. We did not record the interview.
Stephanie Clark, formerly the program coordinator for the Neighborhood Alliance in Oberlin, now works as the intake monitor at the Haven Center. Prior to the novel coroner virus pandemic, the Neighborhood Alliance provided lunch for seniors twice a week (Mondays and Fridays), offered exercise classes twice a week and hosted a movie and a snack once per week. Once each week she also led a caregiver support group. She said many seniors are taking care of their elderly spouses.
“If seniors ever needed personal help I could help them with things like Social Security. We had a food pantry that they could utilize, anyone in the county could. The food pantry is still there if they need it.”
The Oberlin senior center “had almost 100 members but on a regular basis I would see the same 40 our so.” Clark defined “senior citizens,” or those who accessed her services as people as young as 55 or 60, but said the center had a couple people who were 50 as users.
The center closed in March 2020 as a result of the coroner virus pandemic.
“A few of them cried. They were all very disappointed,” Clark reported. They wanted it to stay open regardless of the pandemic. None of them were scared of it. It wasn’t my choice to close either. Once or twice a week I would call everybody to do wellness checks. I did deliver some supplies to them if they needed anything. And we have interns who are still making wellness check phone calls.”
Clark echoed community concerns about transportation “because transportation is a problem for people in Lorain County. Some of the people did carpool to get to the center, but other than coming to the center there was always a need for transportation still.
“I wish there were more services we could provide. I do live in Oberlin. I do know a lot of what seniors need. Transportation, financial assistance. When I became a social worker, seniors was my target population. A lot of them need help navigating Social Security. Getting help to them to get supplies and things. And since the center is closed they don’t really have some place to go to socialize.”