A center that provides food assistance and other services to seniors unexpectedly closed its doors last Thursday.
The Senior Assistance Center in Denver’s Sunnyside neighborhood has been around for 36 years and feeds close to 200 seniors each week.
Karen Black, the center’s executive director, said she hopes the closure is only temporary and hopes to reopen.
She has been running the center off West 44th Avenue and Federal Boulevard since late January. She says while there is some money left, she wasn’t happy with the quality of service the nonprofit was offering its clients.
Black also says she didn’t have enough food donations or volunteers.
“We’re seeing many more people than we did before from outside, just this Sunnyside neighborhood, and our resources are getting stretched, so we wanted to take that deep breath and say how do we take those resources that we have and yes, they are limited, and be able to say how do we reach the community at large,” Black said.
She says last year, the center helped more than 10,000 seniors with food, utility assistance, transportation and some medical supplies. It's a number that's grown over the years. Black says the center served 2,556 seniors during a four-month period in 2015, 4,092 seniors during that same four-months in 2016 and 4,240 seniors during that time in 2017.
Black says that 11 employees lost their jobs, while she was staying on at the center. She says she's remaining in an attempt to reorganize the nonprofit.
The center is reaching out to all of its clients with alternative food options.
“It breaks my heart,” Black said. “I cry sometimes at night when I go home and think about the fact that I either don’t have enough food, I don’t have what I think are healthy options."
"Seniors need stuff that's low in sugar and low in sodium, some of them need gluten-free, there are all these dietary restrictions that they have," Black added. "Unfortunately, I can get lots of bread and I can get lots of sweets -- that's not always the best thing for someone who's a diabetic or has high cholesterol."
PHOTOS: Senior Assistance Center abruptly closes
Seniors can get emergency assistance from the Bienvenidos Food Bank at 3810 N. Pecos St. on Thursdays from 11 a.m. to noon or 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., according to the letter.
They can also call the Mile High United Way’s Information Center at 211 for information about the food pantry and utility assistance options closest to them.