Thirty-three years of keeping seniors and volunteers comfortable took a toll on the heating and cooling system of the Kamiah Senior Center. During summer months, volunteer cooks and meal preparers had to work in a severely overheated kitchen with no ventilation system, and the dining area itself was not much cooler. These conditions put prolonged strain on community members generously devoting their time and energy to serving seniors. The center’s staff worried that the number of volunteers would shrink over time.
As other senior centers in the area closed, Kamiah Senior Center became even more busy, and no repair parts were available for the outdated air system. In addition, the structural integrity of the building was decreasing, and upkeep costs for the heating and cooling system were increasing. The community was beginning to outgrow the building.
In 2016, Innovia Foundation awarded a $29,932 Community Strategies grant for Kamiah Senior Center to renovate its building. The grant helped make it possible for the center to upgrade its entire heating and cooling system and replace its rotting roof with a new, structurally sound roof.
Kamiah Senior Center’s kitchen now has a pleasant climate even in the summer months, and volunteers are able to serve seniors without being fatigued by excessive heat. Since the renovation, the number of volunteers has increased, as has seniors’ participation in meals and activities. Maintenance costs have gone down, and the happiness of those serving and served by the center has gone up.
“The Kamiah Senior Citizen Society board members have a smile on their faces,” said grant writer Debbie Evans. “You can just see the weight lifted from their shoulders.”