Lawmakers of New Mexico, I am writing to ask for your help in funding NM Senior Center Programs through ALTSD and let you know what it’s like to work with our seniors daily.
We operate three senior centers (Socorro, Magdalena and Veguita) with a mostly part-time staff of 12. We all take on any role we need to get our seniors the services they rely on daily.
We provide many of them the ONLY meal they consume daily; we are their only companionship as most of them have no family around to help them out. We are who they call when they need a ride to get their prescriptions, when they need groceries and in emergency situations.
We recently had one of our seniors fall at her apartment complex. She called me on my personal cell phone. I went and picked her up and gave her a ride to the emergency room. I then waited for her to get released, which was after work hours, and took her back home. They are like our family, and we care for them as such. We are there on their bad days when they are crying because they have no one to spend the holidays with. We are part of their good days and celebrate their birthdays with them. We hear about their struggles and lend an ear for them to get things off their chest.
We recently ended the contract with the company who was cooking for us. Since we are already struggling with funding issues, we agreed to take on the responsibility of cooking along with our regular job duties. The entire crew is going to jump in to make sure our seniors get fed. From packaging desserts to pre-chopping vegetables, we are going to make it happen. I tell my staff we are ALL custodians; we are ALL cooks; we are ALL maintenance, and they have no problem with doing whatever needs to get done.
We hold Bingos to purchase much-needed items for our centers such as ceiling fans, curtains, chairs, blinds, vacuums, carpet shampooers and many other things, since we do not have the budget for these basic items, and it is getting worse as food stuffs and fuel escalates; for example, our supplier used to be able to purchase a crate of lettuce for $18, and now that same crate if you can get it delivered is $180. Therefore, we can’t offer salad as part of our nutritious meal plan.
Please come down and visit our centers. See for yourself what it is we accomplish every day for our seniors who deserve to be taken care of as they have already paid their dues to society. It’s our turn to take care of them!
Michael A. Hawkes
Socorro County Manager