Senior center prepares to apply for $500,000 grant

A renovated Greenwood senior center would have more room for members to meet and exercise and a more accessible food pantry.

The changes would help address issues that have come up after the recent growth at the Social of Greenwood, officials said. The center currently has more than 1,100 members, a number that has nearly tripled since 2010.

Using a planning grant the center received last year, officials now are looking to apply for a $500,000 grant for renovations to the building, located at 550 Polk St., meant to make the best use of the space available. The Social’s board of directors and community members met this week to discuss how much space should be given to each of the center’s main programs, including fitness classes, a cafe and food pantry, after the renovation.

“The key is re-arranging space to make the building much more efficient,” said Dawn Gray, the principal architect at Springpoint Architects, which is creating plans for the remodel.

Renovations will include remodeling the existing 7,000-square-foot building, but officials also are considering adding on to the building. The initial plan for the building called for about 11,000 square feet in order to have enough room for the center’s programs. That figure likely will be reduced in final designs, Gray said.

One of the main goals of the renovation is finding a way to host some of The Social’s major events and fundraisers at their building, rather than renting space somewhere else, said Andrea Sutherland, executive director.

Another priority is expanding the center’s food pantry, which serves about 600 people each week.

The grant application to the Indiana Office of Urban and Rural Development will be due in April, but even if the $500,000 grant is approved, construction might not be able to begin until the funds are available in the fall, Gray said. Last year, The Social received a $20,000 planning grant from the state to plan the project.

The Social is planning to begin raising money to cover the cost of matching the grant, including a fundraiser this spring and reaching out to members to request donations, Sutherland said.

Greenwood City Council member Chuck Landon would support the city increasing the amount of financial support it gives to The Social.

For years, the council has provided about $20,000 a year to the senior center, a number that was raised to $35,000 in 2018, he said.

But that number should be higher given how much the city invests in amenities for younger residents, such as money spent on parks, trails and a new kids area at the community center, Landon said.

“The city needs to re-think its commitment,” he said.

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Jacob Tellers is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at jtellers@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2702.