We, as a community, rally around our seniors. We’ve done it time and time again in so many ways.

Four years ago, we were called upon to step up once again when our senior center lost its more than $100,000 in annual federal funding. Four years later, the center still has not regained that funding, for reasons that were preventable and continue to be fixable.

But our community has, proudly — through our donations and county taxes, and through the hard work of the center’s board and employees — kept the center functioning because we all believe in its mission.

That mission is not tarnished. In fact, it has never been more important.

Throughout a pandemic that has been especially dangerous for its chief benefactors, the senior center has further adapted itself to continue to provide delivered meals and a safe place for our seniors to gather.

No one can question the essential service that the senior center — its volunteers, its staff, its administrator and its board — provides for us. It is an unquestionable good in our community.

But it has become equally difficult to question that change is needed.

The fact is, our seniors should be getting more support than they are. Our federal tax dollars are being spent on seniors all across our region — but not in Nodaway County. This must change.

Although the last few years of reports concerning the senior center’s financial activities are troubling, and should be taken seriously by both board members and everyone in the community who cares about Nodaway County’s senior citizens, making it right will require us to be constructive, not simply to criticize or pass blame.

Frustration is certainly appropriate. Dismay is certainly appropriate.

But no matter at whom those feelings are aimed, the best way to move on from them is action.

The senior center’s board must do everything in its power to meet the standards set out by Young at Heart, and instead of trying to keep the issues and disputes private, ask for help. 

There are few people in our community who would respond to an open hand in need with a closed fist, and there are many experts who would willingly and gladly give their time and effort to make sure those who are serving our seniors have what they need.

Rather than use this as yet another opportunity for division, we in Nodaway County should take the difficulties at the senior center as a call to action for those who can help smooth out the arduous path ahead.

In this community, we have already shown our respect for and duty to our seniors in so many ways.

Continuing to ignore what has put our seniors at a disadvantage compared to others in our region, though, isn’t one of those ways.

It’s time for action. And all it requires is a willingness to extend — and, crucially, accept — a helping hand.