Game day approaches for Douglas County Senior Services -- a contest between a cranky deficit and energetic volunteers who want to save services targeted for cuts.
Big stakes loom: a win for the deficit likely would mean the end for an arts and education program that has received a grant from the Kansas Arts Commission and serves more than 1,000 seniors.
Volunteers have until Aug. 24 -- the date of the next board meeting -- to have plans together to raise $25,000. The board will decide then what to do with recreation director Mary Coral, who has been at the center 15 years and whose job has been tabbed for cutting.
If the contest drew crowds like Kansas University football and basketball games, Pres Ripley would propose a concession stand for it, too.
"There are a lot of people tired of sitting on the sideline," Ripley said. "They want to get into the game."
With experience running a concession stand for the Kiwanis Club, Ripley proposed a senior center stand at KU football games this season. The Kiwanis Club raised about $9,000 at its football and basketball stands last year, he said.
Ripley is part of an ad-hoc fund-raising committee formed last month.
The committee so far has planned seven fund-raisers, which one member estimated would raise at least $7,100.
"There's a rather significant misconception that people at the senior center are passive, waiting around for someone to take care of them," Ripley said. "They are looking for something to be active with."
Older adults who have found new creative avenues in Coral's program have rallied behind her. The committee has made saving her job its No. 1 priority.
Coral said in July she would not be able to continue as recreation director if she was cut to half time.
The board tabled its decision on Coral's position until Aug. 24.
At least five volunteers interviewed said they had to butt against an administrative blocking sled along the way.
"Ideas are flying and what we hear from the administrators is we've got to slow this down," said Hilda Enoch, active with the Douglas County Advocacy Council on Aging and the Older Women's League. "They don't know how to handle all this enthusiasm."
Jean Cowles, DCSS executive director, said the fund-raising enthusiasm had been tremendous.
She said that today was the first time she had heard criticism of administrators involved in fund-raising. She would not comment further.
Here are the fund raisers:
-- Volunteers have organized a garage sale, scheduled for Saturday.
-- The fee for Sunday dances at the center have gone up from $2.50 to $3.00. The extra 50 cents for each ticket will go to DCSS.
-- Volunteers will operate a concession stand at Kansas University football games this fall.
-- The agency will take donations for tickets to "Lawrence Day," Sept. 19, at the Woodlands horse and dog race track.
-- The center will hold a Craft Fair Oct. 2 in conjunction with the local Harvest of Arts festival. Volunteers are creating crafts to donate to the fair.
-- A chili feed, featuring traditional, vegetarian, and "every kind of chili you can think of" will take place at the end of October, committee member Bill Binns said.
-- The center will put on its first "Cookie Walk" Dec. 4.