Most of us never really think about getting old. Even though we see our friends and family age, we don’t realize it’s happening to us, too. We seem to think we’re more like Methuselah and will practically live forever.
Getting old, however, even for the well prepared, can be hard. It can be lonely and challenging, and that’s why we need to support places like The Connection.
“We touch the lives of 150 or more people everyday,” said Kimberly Coonis, the executive director of The Connection.
The Connection (which has dropped the “Senior” from its title) has roots back to the Seventies in the old Miner’s Hall, but it’s been in its current location, overlooking the Rodeo Grounds, since 1982.
Kimberly’s original relationship with The Connection began by volunteering as a Meals–On-Wheels driver. She now runs the place and its ever-growing list of programs. Kimberly was inspired to get into the field of senior care after watching her mother help her grandmother get through the last 15 years of her life.
“Family caregiving is the hardest job you can do. It’s emotionally and financially draining,” she said.
That’s why The Connection offers education and support classes for caregivers, as well as the Meal-On-Wheels program, in-home care, transportation, and their popular café, which is open to the public.
“People need help. They need a place to be and we provide that for them,” Kimberly said. “We care for people all over the county.”
The Connection has grown from just a few staffers and basic services to over 30 employees and a laundry list of programs for seniors and disabled citizens. And more growth for the non-profit is on the horizon.
“People are living longer and seniors (65 and older) are the fastest growing population in the country,” she said. “So we need to keep people healthy, and physically and socially active.”
Perhaps the biggest challenge for The Connection is funding. While people readily give to causes supporting kids or pets, seniors often get overlooked. Barely over 1% of donations go to senior care. “Giving to seniors isn’t exciting, and people don’t think about it,” Kim said.
Luckily, The Connection has made it easy—and tasty—to support the cause. You can dine for a donation. Their cafe and ice cream parlor are open to the public weekdays for lunch. Every time someone under 60 pays a mere $7 (or child pays $3) for one of Chef Erik Olson’s tasty meals, the money goes to help pay for the meal of a senior in need.
The Connection is also being supported by proceeds from the I Love Hailey Truck Raffle. The winner will be announced at Thursday’s Business After Hours at Goode Motors. So get your ticket before it’s too late, and don’t forget about our seniors. If you’re lucky, you’ll be one someday, too.
By Mike McKenna
This story originally appeared in the Chamber Corner section of The Weekly Sun.