By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Reporter
KANSAS CITY — Seton Center, located in Kansas City’s urban core, has been serving neighbors in need since it was founded by the Daughters of Charity and the Ladies of Charity of Metropolitan Kansas City in 1969. The agency was housed in the former Holy Name School at 23rd and Benton, built in 1954. As the years passed, and services were added, space grew cramped. About 10 months ago, the center broke ground for a $5 million renovation and expansion of the facility. The construction was made possible by donations from foundations, corporations and individuals and new markets tax credit financing.
Seton Center held an open house Sept. 8 to show off its bright new space and renovations. The center has added 9,000 square feet to its original 21,500 square feet, which allowed it to move offices and services to larger more accessible areas. There is even a patio area for social events. Off-street parking was also expanded.
Along with a food pantry and thrift store, both of which doubled in size, the center offers rent, mortgage and utility assistance and dental services to children, families and seniors. The dental program serves patients from a 10-county area in both Missouri and Kansas. The new dental clinic has three full time and two part time dentists and technicians. There are five chairs in five partly enclosed spaces and two in separate rooms for special procedures or those using wheelchairs. Dental service costs are assessed on a sliding scale based on income and number of dependents.
Catholic Charities is currently interviewing registered nurses for their visiting nurse program. When a nurse is hired, he or she will visit Seton Center twice a month to perform health screenings for seniors, including vital signs like blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and weight, and keep them aware of changes or potential health issues. There will also occasionally be educational programs and referrals given.
Seton Center offers a senior exercise program to help participants keep fit.
Because seniors may live alone and not often get out, Seton Center also offers Senior Buddies, a socialization program for older adults. Older Adult Services director Opal Blankinship has charge of the program. Senior Buddies offers individuals age 55 and better who live independently, opportunities to get out, meet other people, and enjoy a group potluck lunch and fun activities.
Blankinship has watched the neighborhood and people from surrounding areas grow older. She began volunteering at Seton Center around 1970. She has directed the Older Adults Services program and Senior Buddies for about 15 years.
Regular activities include music, movies, holiday celebrations, Bingo, exercise, wellness, guest speakers, a support group and a monthly birthday celebration. Occasional activities include field and shopping trips to a local shopping mall, grocery or department store.
Currently about 40 people participate in the program, and there’s room for more.
“Right now we have seven people in their 90s,” Blankinship said. “They stay busy, physically and mentally, and think positively. We play 15 regular Bingo and three Blackout Bingo games every Tuesday and Friday. They love it!”
Each month, Senior Buddies go on “a shopping trip to Wal-Mart,” Blankinship said, “and then to lunch at Home Town Buffet. We also take daytrips to Atchison and other nearby places. Once a year we go to Branson and twice a year we go to Jamesport, to visit the Amish Colony. We have a lot of fun.”
Senior Buddies meets every Tuesday and Friday from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Transportation is provided for individuals living within the following zip codes: 64108, 64109, 64110, 64123, 64124, 64125, 64126, 64127, 64128, 64129 and 64130. Seton Center asks that individuals call (816) 231-3955 a day in advance to arrange for transportation to the Senior Buddies program.
Another Seton Center program that neighborhood seniors might be interested in is the Medication Assistance program. Seton Center is sometimes able to provide assistance with prescription medications. Staff members work directly with pharmacies to make direct payment for critical prescriptions for those unable to afford them.
“We’d love to have more people join us,” she said. “Get out, meet different people and have fun!”
For more information, contact Opal Blankinship by calling Seton Center, (816) 231-3955.