Though it has been in operation for 27 years, many seniors in the rural western parts of Comal County may not be aware of the Bulverde Spring Branch Activity Center or know what programs and services it provides, Executive Director Kimberly Kelley said.
‚ÄúThe mission of the Bulverde Spring Branch Activity Center is to facilitate active aging and enhance the quality of life for older adults in our communities,‚ÄĚ Kelley said. ‚ÄúOur mission and vision is to enhance our seniors‚Äô quality of life and help facilitate dignified aging-in-place. Our programming is designed to fill these unmet needs of our rural community.‚ÄĚ
The center takes a multifaceted approach to meeting those goals, including:
‚ÄĘ A nutrition program that both serves congregate meals on site and Meals on Wheels, which delivers nutritious meals to homebound seniors.
‚ÄĘ Senior outreach services, through which referral services and educational opportunities are available for seniors and caregivers in need.
‚ÄĘ Social programs, including crafts, games and activities to help prevent isolation and depression.
‚ÄĘ Fitness classes and a gym to keep seniors healthy and fit.
‚ÄĘ And, a transportation program that provides reliable service to and from the center for those without transportation.
‚ÄúWe started in 1991 with 24 members,‚ÄĚ Kelley said, explaining the center at that time was named the Bulverde Senior Center. ‚ÄúThe center raised funds and doubled the size of the center in 2013 in order to accommodate growth.‚ÄĚ
Many people in the area, however, felt they weren‚Äôt candidates for the center‚Äôs offerings, Kelley said.
‚ÄúDespite the continuous growth, several community seniors felt too young to be going to a ‚Äėsenior center,‚Äô and, to encourage active older adults to join, the Bulverde Senior Center began doing business as Bulverde Spring Branch Activity Center.‚ÄĚ
The change was a good one.
‚ÄúBetween year-end 2014 and year-to-date 2018, center membership has increased 19.5 percent, overall participation has increase 25 percent, Meals on Wheels delivered has increased 184 percent and fitness participation has increase 22 percent,‚ÄĚ she said, explaining the center was voted Bulverde Spring Branch Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year in 2017.
‚ÄúWe continue to see an increase in activity participation for fitness classes, community education and information sessions,‚ÄĚ Kelley said. ‚ÄúSeniors of all ages take advantage of our fitness program as evident by growth in participation. We encourage our older seniors to stay active by providing several free fitness classes and working with their supplement insurance so that participation costs is not a hindrance.‚ÄĚ
Aside from the membership and participation numbers, Kelley said, the personal stories of the members speak volumes about the center‚Äôs success.
‚ÄúWe have members that frequent the center because they have nowhere else to go,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúThey would be home alone every day if not for going to the center. Members become happier and more engaged as they participate.‚ÄĚ
But that‚Äôs not all.
‚ÄúOur outreach program was able to recruit support and donations to help a disabled senior get an electric pole installed and service to his trailer where he had been living without power through the cold winter last year,‚ÄĚ Kelley said. ‚ÄúAnother senior was overwhelmed when a microwave was delivered to her. We heard that she had no way to heat her meals and once the need was shared, a microwave was donated. These are the reasons that the volunteers and staff work at the center.‚ÄĚ
The Bulverde Spring Branch Activity Center has one full-time employee, five part-time staff members and 145 volunteers. About 77 volunteers are needed each month to facilitate programming and prepare and deliver Meals on Wheels.
‚ÄúThe center is not funded by taxes or any federal programs,‚ÄĚ Kelley said. ‚ÄúWe depend on donations and community support to fund our programs. We are also very dependent on our volunteers and could not serve the community without them.‚ÄĚ
To help meet financial needs, the center holds three big fundraisers each year.
On May 4, it will conduct its 20th annual Run for the Hills 5K/10K/Walk. In 2019 the theme is May the Fourth be with You.
‚ÄúOur Un‚ÄôWine‚ÄôD with Us in March and Style Show and Luncheon in July are also favorite fundraisers in our community,‚ÄĚ Kelley said.
She encouraged people in the Bulverde and Spring Branch areas to learn more about the center by visiting in person, attending a new member orientation or visiting the center‚Äôs website at www.bsbac.com. People needing services or wanting to volunteer should contact Sandra Faust, outreach services, at 830-438-3111 or [email protected].