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Monday, April 22, 2019

New Director, Programs and Partnerships: Hyde Park Center for Older Adults Enters New Phase after 45 Years

by Cynthia Smith

Hyde Park Center for Older Adults has a new executive director, and she’s hit the ground running. 
Shelley Goering, who previously worked at The Kenwood by Senior Star, is eager to help the Center evolve to meet the needs of today’s seniors. 
“As people are living better longer, the needs of seniors have diversified,” she explains. “There are now two distinct groups: those 60-80, and those over 80. The younger group is more active than seniors have ever been: still living at home, working longer, staying involved in the community. They want mental stimulation, the chance to meet new people and take part in fun and interesting activities. The older group’s needs are what the Center has traditionally provided: meals, transportation to medical appointments, help navigating Social Security, Medicare and the health care system. 

Challenges and Opportunities
Goering sees the Center expanding to serve both groups better. But there are challenges ahead. With United Way and other funders’ incomes down 20% or more, The Center needs to create new revenue streams. The building it uses at 2800 Erie Avenue can host activities for large groups, but would function more efficiently with renovations. And like all the businesses and organizations surrounding Hyde Park Square, the Center struggles to provide nearby parking. 
The Center serves about 700 individuals from across the Eastside annually, but only about 200 of those are paying members or donors. Goering and her staff of 12 are working on restructuring the benefits to make membership more appealing.
Most of all, the Center needs to build awareness of existing programs. “We could accommodate twice the number of participants we serve today,” Goering estimates. 

Serving the Community Since 1974
The Center turns 45 this year, and plans are underway to celebrate. “We are excited to still be here and thriving,” Goering says. “We want to honor our founders and the leaders who have help us steadily grow. We’ll be hosting a luncheon and music series in the summer, a tribute dinner in the fall, open houses and other events.”

Approaching Aging with Dignity and Wonder
Goering took the job because she wanted to make a bigger impact. “I loved my work before, starting in Guest Services, then moving into Business Development and Community Relations at The Kenwood by Senior Star, but I wanted to serve older adults more directly.”
It has been a treat for Goering to get to know the Center’s participants. “They have great senses of humor and tell wonderful stories,” she notes. “They are wise and knowledgeable.
“In our society, we don’t identify with getting older, but if we are all going to live to 90+, we need to embrace this part of our lives, hold it in higher esteem and respect. There needs to be a cultural change. We need to approach aging with dignity and wonder.” 
One way Goering is promoting that concept is by working with Hyde Park resident Jim Gruber of Cincinnati Home Care and Xavier University. Twenty of the Center’s members are going to give oral histories at XU for an audience of students studying eldercare. Each Center member’s story will be recorded and transcribed for their future use.

Building Community
“We enjoy being part of the Hyde Park community,” Goering says, “and plan to strengthen our relationships with neighbors and area businesses. We can work together more, serve older adults better, and all benefit. Area churches have been helpful. Episcopal Retirement Services owns our building, and they have been especially supportive.”
The Center provides socialization through three meals each week, but is looking to expand social opportunities for participants, because through divorce and longer widowhoods, people are looking at 25 or more years on their own at the end of life.
Goering gives an example of the need: “A Hyde Park woman in her mid-60s, whose father was on our board of trustees, lost her spouse a few years ago and has offered to help start a singles group at the Center. She told me it is really difficult to find companionship at her age.” People like this woman want a safe and secure way to meet new people.
Goering also envisions “offering more lectures, classes, exercise programs, art and music; providing our social worker with a full-time schedule (she helps people with Medicare, bills, doctor appointments, etc.); partnering with a health care system or home health provider to get an on-site nurse in to do wellness checks and provide education; and creating a Resource Center with information about local organizations that provide help for home health, home repairs, how to make homes handicapped accessible, etc.
There’s no doubt the energetic Goering, soon to enter the young-senior stage herself, can make it happen, with a little help from the Center’s friends. 

Shelley Goering, right, with 30-year Hyde Park Center for Older Adults member, Louise Gibson.

How to Get Involved

The Hyde Park Center for Older Adults is always looking for people interested in serving on the board, volunteering or joining a committee. 
To learn more, call the Center at 321-6816. Staff members will be happy to provide a tour and explain current needs. Two other opportunities to learn about the Center are the Jazz ‘n’ June event set for June 21, and/or the 45th Annual Tribute Dinner scheduled for November 1. For details, visit the website:

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