CMC to unload Senior Programs |

CMC to unload Senior Programs

Pete FowlerGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Post Independent/Kelley Cox

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. – When Cheryl Cain goes to work at the Colorado Mountain College building behind City Market, she sees 3-year-olds and 93-year-olds in the same building.To her and others, it represents the mission of CMC: lifelong learning. She wonders if the mission is changing.The future of CMC Senior Programs in Garfield County is unclear as Colorado Mountain College plans to transfer Senior Programs it sponsors to another agency. No one thinks the programs will disappear, but staff who run the programs fear such a change may jeopardize or interrupt the services they provide, such as the senior meals, transportation and volunteer program.CMC says the mission is not changing and that providing senior transportation, meals and the volunteer program are not part of the mission of lifelong learning.Lin Claussen, executive vice president of CMC, said that equity between the counties CMC serves is a main reason for the decision. CMC uses tax funds from six counties but only sponsors Senior Programs in Garfield County.”That’s the key point coming from our board of trustees,” she said, adding that the board wonders why it would support something in only one county that doesn’t fall within the college’s mission.Chairwoman of the CMC Board of Directors Doris Dewton said in a statement, “Our board of trustees has been asking why we are sponsoring Senior Programs in just this one county, and asking how these programs fit within a community college mission.”

Claussen also mentioned the program will need to expand and the board is not sure that the college is the most expert or knowledgeable entity to continue providing the services. She said the goal is to make a transition seamlessly. Nothing will happen until a plan is established and a task force of nonprofit and governmental agencies has been formed to figure out the best future for Senior Programs in the county, she added.”The concept that they’ll be able to move such a comprehensive countywide program to another agency seamlessly – I can’t see that happening,” said Gwen Stephenson, director of Senior Programs. “Our concern is the people we serve.”There was talk of partnering with the county, but no details have been worked out. Garfield County manager Ed Green said it might not be the best idea since partnering with the county would prevent funding from private sources.”It does appear they (college officials) want to divest themselves of the Senior Programs,” Green said. “I think it’s imperative that we protect and nurture those three programs.”

For the Senior Programs, CMC provides facilities, benefits to employees, other infrastructure costs and around $80,000 of the more than $500,000 Senior Programs’ annual budget, according to Stephenson. More important is the leverage in obtaining funding that being associated with CMC provides, she added. Those things will all likely disappear. But there might be a possibility that the programs could remain in the current facility, Claussen said.CMC’s support for the Senior Programs began in 1978. Cheryl Cain, director of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), found it ironic that a recent meeting to discuss the issue was held in a facility and room designed specifically for the Senior Program. “There is a huge sense of betrayal,” Cain said. She added that CMC and the Senior Programs here were “born in the same crib.”Cain and Stephenson feel that straightforward reasons haven’t been given for the change.”It makes it hard to stay on task when there’s so much uncertainty,” said Linda Shoup, accounts manager for the Senior Programs.Stephenson thinks the “experts” should be the people who run the program and do the work every day. She said she offered a proposal that would allow the Senior Programs to become its own nonprofit entity aligned with but not technically sponsored by CMC.

Everyone involved seems to agree the senior population of Garfield County is projected to grow substantially over the next few decades and it will be important to develop the programs.”After this lengthy partnership we should be able to find some common ground,” Cain said.”Voices from the whole county need to be a part of this to say what it is they value,” she said, adding that seniors need to be heard.Contact Pete Fowler: 945-8515, ext. 16611pfowler@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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