Senior Center, park district end their three-year contract

The Vashon Senior Center, which has been under the auspices of the Vashon Park District for the past three years, has decided to go it alone.

The center's contract with the park district ended this month, and the senior center decided not to renew it, according to board members. The parting is amicable, officials with both parties said.

"It was mutually agreed that we were at a point where we could continue on our own, and they had a lot on their plate as well," Ellen Trout, who chairs the senior center's board, said. "There's no animosity."

"The park department has given us three years and given us the confidence to know we can do it," added Ava Apple, vice president of the senior center's board. "We as a board decided we were ready."

The senior center, which offers lunch four days a week, classes, social events and occasional outings, had been under the auspices of Senior Services, a Seattle-based nonprofit, for more than 25 years. Three years ago, the small organization decided it wanted more local control and left Senior Services, becoming a Vashon Park District program instead.

But the senior center has been self-funding in the years that it's been with the park district, getting only a few in-kind services from the park district, Apple and Trout said.

The organization will lose some financial support by no longer being a park district program. The park district printed the senior center's newsletter, hosted its website and handled payroll for its four part-time employees, said Willow Eaton, director of the agency.

"Financially, it won't affect us, other than that we'll have to find someone who can provide low or no-cost printing," Eaton said. "That's about the only financial hit."

Bill Ameling, who chairs the park district's board, said the public agency will continue to partner with the senior center, should needs or requests come up. Theirs, he said, "was a marriage of convenience. And right now, the senior center decided they wanted to go on their own."


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