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United Way supports Vashon’s senior center

The United Way of King County recently awarded a $30,000 grant to the Vashon-Maury Senior Center for its operating budget.

The center, which serves 20 to 50 seniors a day, had lost $25,000 of its funding from King County for this year, making the grant most welcome, according to Willow Eaton, the center’s director.

“It’s really, really nice to have it,” Eaton said, “but it does not take care of all our needs. ... It does not put us on Easy Street.”

The grant will help to keep the lights on and the doors open, she said. It is intended to help the center ensure that Vashon’s older adults maintain the highest possible quality of life.

To that end, the center must follow stringent record keeping procedures this year or risk losing a small portion of the grant. Not all of the details are in place yet, Eaton said, but staff will be required to follow a set number of adults over a period of time and record how many attend the center’s meals, social activities and health programs.

The center is often a hub of activity, with seniors frequently gathering there for lunch, a movie, a class or a field trip. But as with many nonprofit organizations, funding is always an issue, Eaton said.

“There is always more to do,” she said.

Agencies that award grants often make funding decisions based in part on how many people a program serves, which puts Vashon at a disadvantage, Eaton said. But because Vashon is isolated, the role of the senior center is important, she added.

“Our mission is no less urgent and valid,” Eaton said. “It is even more so.”

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