Board members of the Mat-Su Senior Services Center are changing the way the non-profit operates after a big financial loss.

Newly appointed interim Executive Director Fred Traber said the facility has been spending through its reserves for the past four years and last year lost $1 million-- in part due to cuts in state and federal funding.

The non-profit is projected to lose another million in fiscal year 2019, but Traber said they’re taking steps to make sure that doesn’t happen.

“We’re installing our own financial system to help us keep better track of our financial situation-- where we’re spending money and where our revenue is,” Traber explained. “We’ve stepped up our giving and development program. We’re hiring new people [in] key areas to support what we’re doing in an economical manner.”

Another cost-cutting measure was closing the adult day services facility in Big Lake. Traber said the number of people using that facility didn’t justify the cost of keeping it open.

“We were able to absorb the clients here in our facility up the street and we found homes for the employees who wanted to be relocated,” Traber said. “It’s tough.”

Traber said the center provides vital services for the community. Each day, they serve up to 100 meals at the facility in Palmer and another 200 are delivered through the Meals on Wheels program.

Mat-Su Senior Services also provided 18,000 rides for seniors with mobility issues.

“The growth of the senior population in the Mat-Su Valley is incredible, and we are working very hard to keep up with that growth,” Traber said. “At the same time that growth is happening, we are seeing funding sources that are not funded at the same level they’ve been in the past.”

Paula Brown, 76, has been coming to the Strong Women workout class for more than a decade.

She said the classes offered keeps seniors on their toes.

“It’s important to be able to socialize with people to keep your mind active, to get good meals, to just be able to do things, that’s very critical,” Brown said. “People deteriorate quickly if they don’t have the contact that they as human beings need.”

Traber hopes improving their financial situation now means the center will continue to give seniors options when it comes to staying active in their community.

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