New seniors agency forming on Westside

       Responses to a survey are being sought by a recently formed nonprofit organization that plans to begin offering “neighbor helping neighbor” services to senior citizens in the 80904 zip code.
       According to founder JoAnn Gaston, the survey responses will help the new agency - named “Commu-nity Spun” - to understand the needs of seniors who would like to continue living in their homes.
       For now, the group's brochure lists such possibilities as transportation (using private cars), household chores, personal needs and in-home assistance. A strong emphasis would be placed on volunteers. A target socio-economic group would be seniors just above poverty level, who don't qualify for many government programs, Gaston said.
       There is no office currently. The goal is to be operational by Dec. 1.
       A volunteer board of directors has been meeting regularly and has developed a business plan. One of the statements reads: “Community Spun is a tax-exempt organization that will provide support for older adults who want to continue to live in their homes by offering access to practical, reliable services and social support, while fostering a sense of community.”
       Gaston agreed that Community Spun's mission is similar in a number of aspects to Silver Key Senior Services, a Westside-based nonprofit that has served the area's elderly for more than 30 years. However, she believes that a steadily aging population, combined with thinning personal resources, is creating gaps that Silver Key (and other existing providers) can't fill. “Even if we're duplicating Silver Key, the needs are still there,” Gaston said.
       Lorri Orwig, volunteer coordinator for Silver Key, said her organization had not been approached yet by Community Spun, but a meeting of those in leadership roles would be welcome. “It's all about more services for seniors,” she said. “But if gaps need to be filled, we'd like to see them filled and more power to them. We're all about collaboration.”
       A difference from the Silver Key model is that Community Spun would have memberships - $200 a year for singles or $250 for a household. Reduced rates would be available for those with lower incomes.
       The local business plan, in which volunteers would help seniors living in their own neighborhoods, is based on the “village movement,” as exemplified by organizations in Boston (Beacon Hill) and Denver (Washington Park Cares), Gaston said.
       The survey asks people to enter checkmarks beside boxes matching their age, their type of living arrangements, their greatest concerns and if they are willing to “take a more extensive survey.” Other questions ask people if they would like to attend a “neighborhood information party” to learn more, would want a “daily check-in call” as part of their membership and would consider being a volunteer for seniors in their area. They can also list someone they'd recommend for Community Spun services.
       Hard copies of the survey are available at the Westside Community Center, 1628 W. Bijou St.; and the Area Agency on Aging at the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG), 15 S. Seventh St.
       Online, go to surveymonkey.com/s/communityspun.
       For more information, call 719-422-3742.

Westside Pioneer article