Marvel Williamson

The Senior Resource Center of Douglas County (SRC) has recently redefined its mission and rebranded itself as an information clearinghouse. The organization is now focused on helping people navigate the complexity of resources in the Lawrence area that are available to seniors, according to Marvel Williamson, director of the agency.

Nowadays it is commonly understood that there are three stages of aging:       (1) active seniors who need limited assistance to participate in a community;     (2) seniors who are facing a life event that limits them in some way and who need a particular set of support services in order to remain self-sufficient and connected to the community; and (3) individuals who are heavily dependent on support services for their daily routines.

When it was established in the 1970s, Douglas County Senior Services (DCSS) was a centerpiece of activity for all seniors in downtown Lawrence, a role it continued to play through the 1990s. During a recent strategic planning process, however, DSSC staff realized that the agency was serving a small population of the most vulnerable and that they interacted with active seniors only infrequently. The need was clear: re-invent DSSC in order to meet the needs of all three constituencies.

Senior Resource Center is doing just that. 2017 is a year of “building capacity” for its new mission. The agency has adopted its new name, designed a logo, and developed a website at www.yourSRC.org that identifies it as a resource and referral point. At the same time, it has taken care to maintain support services to seniors: meal delivery, rides for those who need them, a calendar of social and educational activities, and technical and legal assistance, among many others. The agency has catalogued the multiple non-profit and business resources in the community, including identifying seniors who can help each other in various ways. Professionals in the field can also use the Center as a place to network in periodic “summits,” Williamson envisions.

Funding for Senior Resource Center comes from Douglas County. The balance of the $1 million annual budget is met through grants and gifts. The City of Lawrence provides space for the agency and its programs. Because the longtime physical office and gathering spaces in downtown Lawrence are currently under renovation, the agency staff is working at Peasley Technical Center for the year. Currently, there are nine full time employees and 20 who work part time.