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Front Page » March 10, 2005 » Carbon senior scene » Centering on Seniors
Published 3,863 days ago

Centering on Seniors

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Sun Advocate community editor

Debbie Kobe is the new director of the Carbon County Senior Center. She came to the job after working for the Carbon County Sheriffs Department for nine years.

Debbie Kobe hasn't been in her job as the director of the Carbon County Senior Center very long, but she has learned at least one thing.

"This place is a like a second home to most of those that come here," she stated as she sat in her office and looked out the window. "And they are really friendly."

Kobe, who worked at the Carbon County Sheriffs Office for nine years says there is a lot of difference between the people she meets at the senior center and those she met at the jail.

"They come in here mostly happy," she smiles. "At the jail usually people had one kind of a problem or another.

Kobe took over last month and she is still learning the place; her staff and of course those that come in the door every day. Some things are easy to figure out, some are not.

"Our numbers for lunch are going back up from what they were," she indicates as she looks at the lunch menu for the next day that is on her desk. "Oh, I guess we will be down a little tomorrow. It's "pigs in a blanket" and I have been told that is not one of the favorites here."

Kobe takes over not only one bustling center of activity, but actually two, because she manages the East Carbon Senior Center as well.

"I am lucky because I have a good site director there in Paula Blackburn and a good kitchen staff as well."

Ceramics and crafts are favorites at the center.

Obviously food is important in the place. There is a lot of emphasis on it. The lunch that is served each day attracts an average of 100 people.

"Last week we had our monthly birthday lunch and we had 183 people crammed in the cafeteria," notes Kobe.

Seniors are encouraged to call in when they are planning on coming to lunch so that enough food can be prepared.

"There is also a sign in sheet for those who come to lunch and they can mark if they are planning on coming to lunch the next day as well," she says.

Another important program that has to do with food is the Wheels on Meals program that is managed by Bonnie Bell.

"There is about an average of 150 people on that program at any one time," she explains. "Some of those served are long term and some are short term. It depends on their situation and their mobility to get here."

The menu for meals is the same day to day between the two centers and all menus are also approved by a dietician.

Kobe says that lunch is a great time for seniors to get to know each other and that on most days while the music is playing a number of them get up and dance during the lunch hour.

Kobe is a native of Carbon County and has lived here her entire life and she sees how it has changed.

"Our community is an aging one," she says. " I see this as a way to serve those people. I have gained a real interest in seniors, especially as my parents have aged."

That means a lot of activities and interesting things to do for those over 60 need to be included in a viable senior center.

The center offers a lot of different things for seniors to do and learn.

Some seniors think knitting is a pretty neat pastime as the talk and work at the same time.

Some of the most popular include the ceramics and crafts, line dancing and game day, where those in attendance play cards.

The center also offers a senior bowling day on Fridays, yoga and Bingo on Monday night at 7 p.m.

One of the favorite hangouts at the center is the pool room which is often populated with those who like the cue and ball game.

There are also other services at the center. There are some computers there for seniors use and in fact the center offers computer classes.

"This time of year we also offer income tax help to seniors as well," said Kobe. "We have that available on Saturdays."

Another favorite activity that seniors love are the trips to other places that the center arranges. For instance the next trip is to Lake Powell on April 29 and that will run through May 1.

"One of the things we are planning to do is to go back to having day trips as well," notes Kobe. "Many seniors don't like staying overnight and those trips are a lot of fun. One of the things they do is to visit other senior centers. Many of those that go have friends that are regulars at other centers.

Kobe says probably the most outstanding thing about the Carbon Senior Center is it's staff.

"We have 24 employees total and they are all good," she says. "Some are full time, some are part time but they are all valuable."

Kobe also says that the center couldn't survive without its volunteers.

"If we had to hire people to do what they do it would take two or three full time employees," she noted.

One of the biggest challenges Kobe faces is dealing with all the budgets she has to manage. Few people realize how complicated budgeting and fiscal management can be in a place where funding sources are numerous and expenditures can get out of control so easily.

Despite having only been on the job for about three and a half weeks she is already getting some ideas for improving some things, but she also knows that she has a great deal to learn about how things operate.

"This is a great job and I really enjoy coming to work each and every day here," she concluded.

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March 10, 2005
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