The Enumclaw Senior Center has undergone a notable facelift and is now more inviting for visitors, better prepared to serve its clients and a better place for staff to carry out their duties.
Jobyna Nickum, who has guided the center for the past 28 years, offered a remodeling report during a recent gathering of the Enumclaw City Council.
The Cole Street building had major design issues, she said, harkening back to the days when the structure housed a garment manufacturing operation; or, prior to that, when it was used for automobile sales. Nickum noted how the building was not in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act and lacked some essentials that come with serving an older clientele. She related how seniors might have their nails clipped in the manager’s office, how food and cleaning supplies were stored side-by-side in the main office and how meetings wound up being too-crowded affairs.
“It was like a big family living in a small house,” is how she described conditions to the council.
Relief came with passage of King County’s Human Services, Seniors and Veterans Levy. The 2017 measure was approved on a countywide ballot, providing money for projects on many fronts.
Nickum knew the Enumclaw Senior Center was in line for $75,000 but was given the leeway to submit a grant request for $96,000, which was approved. The bulk of the money — $64,000 — was earmarked for capital improvements; the rest was divided between efforts to increase participation ($10,000) and “update organization infrastructure” ($10,234). In addition, $12,500 was allocated to help educate seniors about the county’s program that allows seniors to remain exempt from certain tax obligations.
The money has now been spent, she reported, adding that projects were carried out with the help of city employees, the patience of senior center attendees and the positive attitude of center staff.
The biggest change came with a decision to convert some of the space in the large front area to an office. While the square footage available to senior guests has been reduced, Nickum said, the result is a much cozier setting.
“I know it might be hard to believe, but for the 44 years the Senior Center’s been in operation we never met ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements,” Nickum said, adding those federal guidelines are “kind of important when you deal with seniors and people with disabilities.”
Prior to receiving the grant, the center had one office that was crowded and allowed little privacy for seniors wishing to speak with staff.
With recreation programming and van services moved to the lobby, Nickum shifted into space that is ADA compliant – something she lacked before. Her old office has become a wellness room and offers a private space for foot care, dental exams, counseling, massage and more.
New, efficient lighting was installed to replace lights from three decades ago and windows received new draperies and blinds. An old sign-in system, which had been in use since Nickum began in 1991, has been replaced with a computerized system.
Outside, a fence was installed around the parking lot, alleviating some safety concerns, and a sign was installed.
Happy to have received funding and admittedly pleased that all the work is completed, Nickum is ready for the next hurdle. Coming up is a window of opportunity for next year’s grants and she is aiming for money to help with outreach efforts into Enumclaw’s senior community.