EATON — Preble County Council on Aging (PCCOA) was honored with the very first award for Senior Center of the Year by the Ohio Association of Senior Centers (OASC) on Tuesday, March 19.
Director Shelley Ratliff was also recognized for five years of individual certification.
To receive the annual award, it took work and dedication to area seniors and providing programming for those seniors. The award shows that PCCOA does great things for Preble County and seniors in the area, according to officials.
According to Ratliff, she had to apply for the award, using the Senior Dances as their “best practice.” On Monday, March 18, she gave a presentation on the dance and why it is a success for the center.
“The problem started in late 2012 or early 2013. I had been here only a couple years. A lot of our seniors were saying they wanted a safe place to go and they enjoyed their music so much, they wanted a dance. Many of them go out of our county every night for a dance,” Ratliff said.
“Our Participants Council got together and decided that is what they wanted to do. Who better to organize and plan a dance than the people who go every night to these dances? We looked at the different ways we could do this. If the Senior Center put this dance on, it would cost money that we didn’t necessarily have.
“We knew we could either absorb that cost ourselves, increase our membership, use more levy dollars, or make it an income stream to offset those activities. We did a combination of a couple of those. The Participants Council decided to create this dance that they would run.
“In theory, you can walk through the door for $3 and for $3 you can have a really good meal, so the seniors don’t have to stretch their resources too much. We know on Thursday night, somebody can come in, they can have a great time, socialize, get some exercise in, and have a great meal.”
She added, since 2013, 23,570 people have attended the Thursday night dance. The money raised goes back into the activities department and helps subsidize those programs.
“In our situation, nobody else was doing dances like this. Other senior centers can look to us for what we’ve done and how we were successful,” Ratliff said. “Receiving this award as the very first year is a huge honor.”
According to Ratliff, this award gives recognition to the PCCOA staff and Preble County for the great job they do for area seniors. She feels like PCCOA contributes heavily to the community and many people don’t know about their services. Preble’s Senior Center was the second senior center to become accredited through OASC.
“Our staff is committed to perform their very best in every situation — it doesn’t matter if it is transportation, Home Delivered Meals, or somebody just walks through the door. People are treated like family and they are taken care of,” she said. “It is an honor to receive the award, but also to know that we have been recognized for the job that we do.”