NeighborTies – Strengthening Elders in Our Community

Southeast Seattle Senior Center is looking for volunteers interested in being matched up with an older adult in their community. You would be able to choose what kinds of assistance you would like to offer the older adult and would have the full support of the social worker and the volunteer coordinator.

We are asking each volunteer to commit to a minimum of six months and visit the older adult every two weeks. Our goal is to support and connect the elder to their community and bring the generations together. For more information please email Nikki Bogden at  or call (206) 268-6781.

How Bingo Saved This Seattle Man’s Life

By RUBY DE LUNA • NOV 22, 2015

When Bernie Sadowski first came to the Ballard Senior Center in 2009, he didn’t care about life. His wife of 50 years had died.

“It was like, OK, I’ll go to sleep when I feel sleepy no matter where I was,” he said. He didn’t care if he woke up, and he didn’t know what to do with himself.

Sadowski’s doctor told him he was going through depression and suggested that he get out and socialize. Sadowski’s daughter took him to the senior center.

“Frankly, this saved my life,” Sadowski said.

Sadowski credits the social worker at the senior center for helping him through those dark days. Most senior centers have a social worker on staff. But under the current budget, they can only work 20 hours a week.

Now Seattle could double its funding for social workers who work with older adults.

Councilmember Tom Rasmussen has proposed adding $250,000 in the city’s budget for social workers at senior centers. It’s part of a budget package the council is expected to vote on Monday.

“Growing old is a new journey for everyone,” Rasmussen said. “There are times when there are bumps along the road and we need someone there to help us.” Senior centers are more than just a place for older adults to socialize. They also provide support and referrals to those who are struggling with grief and other challenges relating to aging. Bernie Sadowski, left, with Seattle Councilmember Tom Rasmussen and social worker Jeanese Hime at the Ballard Senior Center. Seattle is poised to double funding for social workers at senior centers. They currently work 20 hours a week.

Jeanese Hime, the current social worker at the Ballard center, says it limits what she can do for the people she’s trying to help. “Some days I’ll see 15 people in one day,” Hime said. “To provide follow-up to each of these people is really challenging, working only two and a half days.” Hime says having the extra hours would allow her to do more follow-up work and to reach out to people who might be isolated. Last year, the Ballard Senior Center served about 4,000 older adults.

For Sadowski, his social worker was a guide back into the world. “He suggested some classes,” Sadowski said. “‘How about bingo?’ And I got playing on Wednesday nights for bingo and came for dinners and started meeting people. And geez, I found out, holy cow, there are a lot of folks in this place that got much bigger problems than me.” Bernie Sadowski at the Ballard Senior Center. He credits the senior center for giving him direction after the death of his wife of 50 years. Bernie Sadowski at the Ballard Senior Center. He credits the senior center for giving him direction after the death of his wife of 50 years.

Senior Safety Program

SEATTLE — There’s a new karate class to help protect seniors who can be vulnerable and preyed upon by robbers.

Mark Bryant plans eight classes once a week at the Southeast Seattle Senior Center.

“You have to look at what seniors have already, they carry keys, they carry canes,” said Bryant, a 58-year-old who also teaches exercise classes at the center.

Bryant, who said he’s practiced martial arts since he was 11 years old, believes there are tactics adults use that might not work for seniors.

Instead of grabbing keys between fingers, he teaches grabbing them with a combination of your thumb, index and middle fingers.

Instead of pulling away from an attacker’s grab, he taught 77-year-old Loretta McIver to use that momentum to her advantage.

McIver and several other seniors at the center acknowledged they felt unsafe in the South Seattle neighborhood, especially on Rainier Avenue South.

“One of my customers was attacked out here on the crosswalk and they grabbed her chain,” said Linda Lewis, who works at the center.

Bryant tries to keep it simple. He doesn’t believe seniors should learn moves that require much timing or balance.

His second class in the series of eight meets this Friday.

Copyright 2016 KING