NAS 20th Anniversary

nas-serenceNAS 20th Anniversary

Serene Karplus

Nederland

Nederland Area Seniors (NAS) enjoys a rich history of caring and commitment to improve the quality of life for mountain seniors. It began as an informal gathering of a few seniors who recognized the need for rural isolated older adults to come together to share a meal and reached out to others who could not attend. They named themselves the “Go-Getters” and worked to ensure that seniors found adequate health care, food, and socialization.

The beginning was casual, so no corporate records determine the date of the first meeting of the founders. Justine Irwin remembers conversations about forming a senior organization when she was in graduate school in 1968. The movers and shakers in the early years were Gloria Fraser, Ruby Jackson, Stephanie Lawrence, and Irene Smith. Irene (Mike’s mother and Jeannette’s mother-in-law) was instrumental in bringing county senior services to the mountains with the help of her husband Joe, who was a Boulder County Commissioner for sixteen years until 1970.

Boulder County Aging Services (BCAS, now Boulder County Area Agency on Aging or BCAAA) watched the fledgling organization grow and their presence clarified the need for a dedicated Senior Resource Specialist for the Nederland area, which they began in 1988. The successful group outgrew the meeting space available in members’ homes and the small commercial spaces available. After years of roaming, they settled into the Lions Club building on First Street, which now houses the Mountain People’s Coop.

In the early 1990’s, the seniors joined forces with BCAS to enjoy their services through the Boulder County Senior Nutrition Program (BCSNP), affectionately called “Bucksnap”. For a while, Volunteers of America hauled meals up from Boulder. Current member Judy MacDougall remembers cooking lunches for the seniors at the Lions Club kitchen. In 1995, the seniors, along with multiple local groups, advocated the acquisition of the old elementary school for refurbishing as the Mountain Family Resource Center. Late that year, they learned that their home, the Lions Club building, was sold.

The move out of the comfortable building launched new directions and in 1996 Nederland Area Seniors, Inc. filed as a 501(c)3 nonprofit. BCAS assumed responsibility for the nutrition program and managed it from afar. After a couple of years as a vagabond group, they settled into their magnificent senior center at the newly remodeled former school. The Town of Nederland sponsored the fledgling startup and the seniors enjoyed four rooms in the building’s West Wing: the computer class and crafts room, the library/ping-pong/pool table/game room, the social/music/TV/cards room, and an office for meetings and administrative work. The rent was $200/month for all four rooms. The kitchen, finished for them by the Lions Club, was theirs to use at no charge. The Lions Club was a tremendous benefactor for the seniors at that time.

NAS enjoyed a brief Golden Era. In 1998, the Town helped them acquire a van with a wheelchair lift and offered senior rides throughout town five days per week. The 106 members enjoyed the services of a staff of four – Program Coordinator, Van Driver, Cook, and Assistant. By 2000, the Town of Nederland supported the fledgling nonprofit’s budget and paid staff.

Then the roof fell in – both figuratively and literally. The Town of Nederland decreased its support over the next few years until the funding was reduced to zero by the year 2004. In 2002, the Lions ceased their financial support. The five-foot snowstorm of 2003 collapsed the gym roof and all tenants were removed from the building. Most of the Senior Center furnishings were sold, and a few were stored in private sheds.  

The seniors displayed their mettle and moved forward, vagabonds again, moving to various restaurants for their meals. They finally landed at the Nederland Community Presbyterian Church and enjoyed catered meals there for several years, hiring a new Director who stabilized the organization over the next decade. In November, 2010, the seniors celebrated the completion of the remodeled Community Center kitchen, thanks in part to grants from BCAS and donations and volunteer hours of local seniors. The grand reopening gala luncheon hosted ninety folks, some traveling from Allenspark, Gilpin, Boulder, and Denver to mark the occasion.

The group revved up their financial engines with their first annual funding outreach campaign in 2001 and staff applied for numerous grants. Over the years, many of the funding sources dried up and the seniors cut costs to survive. By 2007, they employed less than one full-time equivalent to maintain the administrative and meal site functions. Despite the funding cuts, the current members, in collaboration with grantors, donors, and staff have increased services to over 3,500 meals per year, including delivery to the homebound elders of our community.

In 2015, NAS revitalized yet again with an outreach program for younger participants through social breakfasts, dinners, and hikes on weekends. Named Mountain MidLife, it serves all ages adults, mostly attracting those over age fifty, similar to when the organization incorporated twenty years ago. In its first year, Mountain MidLife has served nearly 400 people over 1,100 meals, doubling the number of mountain residents who benefit from the social network and multiple wellness and cultural programs it offers.

The seniors grew up in tough economic times. They have learned the value of flexibility, volunteering, and squeezing every drop out of a shoestring budget. With perseverance and a cheerful spirit, they continue to enjoy cultural outings, speakers, art, writing, reading, hiking, pickleball, and fitness programs. Most importantly, they enjoy each other’s company with stories, jokes, and a delicious meal over 120 times a year.

We welcome all ages to join us in celebrating the tenacity, strength, brilliance, and good humor of our mountain seniors at our 20th Anniversary picnic and potluck on Saturday, August 20, at Noon, at the Chipeta Park Pavilion. We especially encourage our loyal Senior Scene readers, donors, friends, caregivers, and neighbors to come share some joy with us.

Please reserve a place by Wednesday, August 17, at 303-258-0799 so we know how many burgers and brats we will need, served at no charge. Please bring a side dish/salad/dessert to share, a favorite lawn or table game for the afternoon, and a lawn chair. We look forward to seeing you there!

All adults are welcome at all Mountain MidLife and Nederland Area Seniors events, attended mostly by folks over age 50. Everyone is invited to luncheons every Monday and Wednesday, breakfast on most second Saturdays, and dinners on fourth Fridays through summer (third Fridays in fall) at the Nederland Community Center. Please call two days ahead for lunch reservations and a week ahead (whenever possible) for dinners and breakfasts to 303-258-0799. (Missed the deadline? Call anyway.) Cost shown lists first the over-age-60 requested contribution, then the cost for under-age-60.

Monday, Aug 15, Noon, $4/$8.25: Apple Glazed Pork Chop, Stewed Tomatoes, Roasted Red Potatoes/Roll, Pineapple  

Wednesday, Aug 17, Noon, $4/$8.25: Crunchy Fish, Glazed Carrots, Cole Slaw, Brown Rice/Roll, Citrus

Saturday, August 13, 8:30a.m. (doors open 8:00a.m.) Mountain MidLife Breakfast, $5/$8: Southern style Biscuits ‘n’ Gravy (Vegetable or Sausage), Eggs, Grits, Yogurt, Granola, Fruit

 

Serene Karplus

About the Author: Serene Karplus – is the Executive Director of the Nederland Area Seniors, Inc. (NAS) which assists senior citizens in enhancing their quality of life, enabling them to live a life of respect and honor.  This is accomplished through the facilitation of nutrition, transportation, education, recreation, socialization and outreach programs for all seniors living in the Greater Nederland Area. Serene is a contributor to The Mountain-Ear with her Senior Scene column.