Louisville nonprofit pauses programs serving city’s aging population – WAVE 3

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) – After 60 years of supporting Louisville’s older residents, ElderServe is pausing their programs.

The nonprofit said they have run out of the funding to keep their doors open and hopes to regroup in the future.

Linda Duncan has been going to ElderServe for almost five years.

When she heard the news they had to pause their programs, she said many tears fell. Classes that offer exercise, art and community are what Duncan said keeps her and every other senior going.

”We are losing our companionships and our families,” Duncan said. “It’s rough, it’s hard.”

Duncan said she decided to join ElderServe when her aerobics program at the YMCA closed.

She said once she found out about ElderServe, she’s been coming ever since. Duncan said she took, aerobics, yoga, arts and crafts, computer class, and bingo.

“Some of us as seniors may find that we basically go home, do nothing, sit,” Duncan said. “That’s one of the worst things that can happen to us. If we have no incentive or reason to get up and move around, we won’t.”

In March 2021, ElderServe centralized their operations to a building in the Russell Neighborhood in West Louisville.

Patty Belden, ElderServe’s CEO, said the reason why the nonprofit is shutting down started with the pandemic. Belden said donors and funds were spread thin.

She said before the pandemic, Elderserve had 130 staff members. They now only have 11.

“There have been a lot of tears here at 621 28th Street,” Belden said. “A lot of headshaking. A lot of questioning. As we have come out the pandemic, the competition is so much greater.”

Now, Belden said it seems they’re pouring into the health, wellness, and education of young people.

“What we have always found to be frustrating is we are here in West Louisville, and you see millions of dollars being poured into this community,” Belden said. “We are talking 30 million to 70 million dollar projects. Yet here we are, ElderServe, working with some of our community’s most vulnerable. And we can’t raise enough to keep the doors open.”

Belden said it has also been difficult because their facility is right in the middle of two of the largest West Louisville developments.

“The Norton Sports Learning Complex is two blocks down and the Goodwill Opportunity Campus,” Belden said. “Yet here we are, ElderServe, working with some of our community’s most vulnerable. And we can’t raise enough to keep the doors open. And it’s not because we haven’t asked.”

The World Health Organization shows within 30 years, the 60 and older population will be doubled, Belden said.

Belden said she is worried the world won’t be able to keep up and seniors like Duncan will have nowhere to go.

”When we heard, we were stunned,” Duncan said. “We did not know how we were feeling, what we were feeling. All we knew is that this can’t be happening. It’s still hard, it’s still hard.”

“Our seniors are also facing challenges of poverty,” Belden said. “We see food insecurity, housing insecurity, barriers to accessing quality healthcare, accessing transportation.”

The organization is ceasing programs right now, but not dissolving, hoping to be able to resume programming in the future.

To learn more about ElderServe or to make a donation, click or tap here.

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WAVE — Louisville and Southern Indiana’s NBC affiliate. Follow us on Twitter & Instagram @wave3news.(WAVE)

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