Expanding services for senior citizens in northern Harford County, the Highland Senior Center on December 7 began offering additional programs and increasing its hours of operation from three to five days a week. These improvements are made possible by collaboration between the administration of County Executive Barry Glassman and the nonprofit Highland Community Association (HCA). County grants will continue to support activities at the Center, and HCA will take responsibility for administration and staffing formerly handled by the county’s Office on Aging. The new partnership will allow for expanded services and new funding opportunities.
“We are pleased to unite the Highland Community Association and the Highland Senior Center to allow for more direct community support for the Center, and to expand the programming and services being offered to seniors in the northern end of the county,” said County Executive Barry Glassman.
Located in the Highland Commons Building in Street, Md., the Highland Senior Center opened its doors in 1994. The Center offers seniors a variety of classes, social activities, fitness programming, and health promotion activities. Presently there are more than 200 registered Highland Senior Center members.
Members have desired an increase in the Center’s days of operation for several years. However, budget constraints and staffing needs in the county’s busier senior centers have been obstacles to expanding hours at Highland.
By transferring the administration and staffing of the Senior Center to the Highland Community Association, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that operates in the same building, the county has overcome these obstacles. The county’s continued support of programs and services for seniors in the community remains a high priority. This new approach capitalizes on that commitment and the new resources brought to the effort by HCA.
“Our nonprofit partners are important allies in the effort to provide services in our community. Often they can operate without the stringent regulations mandated by our grant programs, which can preclude us from broadening programs as much as we might like. This has been the case with the Highland Senior Center,” said Amber Shrodes, Director of Community Services. “Further, the Highland Senior Council is strong, active, and very self-sufficient. They are skilled at planning and running events. With their advocacy and the leadership of HCA, Highland will thrive under this new model.”
Because HCA is a private, nonprofit organization, new funding opportunities will be available including private, state and federal grants to support operations. The Harford County Department of Community Services will also provide grant funding to assist Center activities. In addition, private businesses can offer in-kind donations including programing and equipment.
The Office on Aging has worked diligently to ensure a smooth transition and will continue to partner with the Center to support North Harford seniors. Further, the Harford County Transit LINK bus will continue to offer transportation to the Center.
“We are thrilled by the expanded hours and new programming opportunities,” said Margaret Hilsmeier, a Center member for more than 25 years. “The Highland Senior Center is a wonderful place to come, relax, and have fun. There are classes, workshops, speakers, activities, computers, and free WiFi. Space is available for card groups and to visit with friends. Also we have free coffee and snacks!”