by Harriet E. Harris, JD, MiCAFE Regional Manager
National Senior Center Month is celebrated every year in September. The 2014 theme is: Senior Centers: Experts at Living! According to the National Institute of Senior Centers (NISC), a division of the National Council on Aging, every day 1 million older adults participate in programs at their local senior centers.
This connection to indispensable programs at these senior centers provides older adults with services that keep them healthy and independent. Elder Law of Michigan recognizes the vital role senior centers have in providing information and that is why we partner with many senior centers through our MiCAFE (Michigan’s Coordinated Access to Food for the Elderly) program that helps seniors apply for food benefits and other valuable programs.
MiCAFE-trained volunteers, or Application Assistants, located in these community partner senior centers will assist the seniors that come to these sites in applying for the benefits they need. Most of these seniors report that they would not have applied for these benefits without the assistance offered at MiCAFE community partner sites, many of which are senior centers.
This month is a wonderful time to showcase one of our many MiCAFE partner senior centers and one of our MiCAFE volunteer Application Assistants who, like all of our 134 partners, do an outstanding job. I had the pleasure as one of my first acts as MiCAFE Regional Manager to visit the Sumpter Senior Center in Sumpter Township, near Belleville, MI, a beautiful diverse farm community.
I came as part of our outreach and support to our MiCAFE partners to deliver a computer to the senior center donated by Elder Law of Michigan to assist Ms. Jewel Butler and the other two MiCAFE application assistants in completing the MiCAFE applications. Ms.Butler has been a dedicated volunteer at Sumpter Senior Center since retiring in 1990 and has lived in Sumpter Township for 48 years having moved from Detroit with her husband to their farm. Ms.Butler has been a trained MiCAFE volunteer since 2012. She states that she has been to at least 11 churches in the area providing information about the MiCAFE program to encourage seniors to come to the senior center for assistance in applying for help.
Ms.Butler’s volunteer activities are numerous at the center and also in the community. She assists in voter registration and education,the food distribution program, and the weekly bible study to name a few of her weekly involvements. The Sumpter Township Senior Center offers nutritional programs such as the Senior Congregate Nutrition Program that provides healthy meals for seniors each week.
The center also participates in the Senior Olympics and offers many activities includes a walking program, arthritis exercise classes, arts and crafts programs, computer lab and instructions, upholstery and quilting classes. The Sumpter Township Senior Center even has a credit union branch located in the center that is opened three days a week. Senior Centers, like the Sumpter Senior Center, are so important to the life of the whole community. They are the heart of the community!
Elder Law of Michigan acknowledges and applauds Senior Centers and their volunteers this month, National Senior Center Month and every month for the critical roles they have in providing information and services to older adults.
Elder Law of Michigan thanks the many senior centers it partners with through the MiCAFE program including:
Alpena Area Senior Citizens Council, Inc.
Bath Charter Township Senior Center
Branch County Commission on Aging/HC Burnside Senior Center
Carman-Ainsworth Senior Center
Cass County Council on Aging
Davison Area Senior Center
Eastside Senior Center
Eaton Rapids Senior Center
Flushing Area Senior Center
Grand Blanc Senior Activity Center
Jackson County Department on Aging
Krapohl Senior Center – Heart of Senior Citizens Service
Lenawee County Department on Aging
Loose Senior Center
Meridian Senior Center
Oscoda County Council on Aging
Redford Township Senior Department
September Days Senior Center
St. Patrick’s Senior Center
Sumpter Township Senior Center
Swartz Creek Area Senior Center, Inc
Traverse City Senior Center
Wexford County Council on Aging
If you would like to bring the MiCAFE program to your senior center or community organization, please contact Lindsay Felsing at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you or someone you know is having a hard time making ends meet, please call MiCAFE at our toll free number, 1-877-664-2233. Our staff can help you find the MiCAFE community partner nearest you or help you apply for assistance right over the phone.
Harriet E. Harris, J.D. is the Regional Manager of MiCAFE. She joined ELM in May 2014.
Harriet received her Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the University of Detroit and graduated with her Juris Doctorate from Wayne State University in 1982.
Before joining ELM Harriet worked in the family court as a referee for 22 years, then in 2010 became a certified mediator, mediating in the district courts and public schools. Most recently in 2012 she became a service coordinator in a senior cooperative apartment with the Luella Hannan Foundation.