As a former CEO and executive director for Wood River YMCA, Teresa Beahen Lipman knows it takes a community to build a strong foundation. Currently the executive director for The Senior Connection in Hailey, Teresa is looking towards the challenges the Wood River Valley will soon face as it regards its senior population in the next decade. “Today there are 40 million people in the United States that are age 60 or above,” Teresa noted during a recent interview. “As the baby boomer generation reaches retirement, that number is going to sky-rocket to 92 million in the next 10 years and communities all over the country had better be ready.”

To help The Senior Connection stay ready for the Valley’s seniors, the organization created its Role and Relevance Committee this summer to look at the programs and services offered and develop a plan to stay up to date with what retired citizens are looking for today and in the future. “Many people in our community don’t know exactly what we do,” Teresa adds. “They’re aware of our lunch program and maybe the food deliveries we make but we have nine programs that all serve our senior population and nutrition is just one of those programs. The Senior Connection is a great resource for everyone in our community and one of our biggest challenges is getting past the preconceived ideas people have about what’s behind the front door.”

“The old saying is, once you’ve seen one senior center, you’ve seen one senior center,” Teresa notes. “And that means that if these organizations are doing it right, each facility will offer programs and services that meet the needs of their locals. We’re fortunate to have a very active senior population, so it makes sense that some of our programs are designed for an active senior population.”

And ‘active’ is a great term to use. Next year, The Senior Connection will begin a program to help local seniors prepare for The Senior Games in 2018. “We’re looking forward to offering opportunities for any senior that would like to compete in The National Senior Games,” Teresa adds. “Aging is not normally celebrated in western civilization. The Senior Games is not only a celebration but a validation of the fact we are surrounded by so much experience and wisdom and as a community we should be embracing our senior population.”

One of the misconceptions about The Senior Connection is that it gets its funding from the government. “In order to keep the doors open, we need to maintain fundraising,” Teresa notes. “This holiday season, a great way to help support the programs and services we offer is through our Holiday Bazaar. This year’s will happen on Thursday, December 15th at The Senior Connection from 11:00 am – 2:00 pm. All items at this year’s bazaar will be marked at $5 or less and there will be free gift wrapping.”

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