Editor's note: This is the next in a series of articles about the member agencies of the United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley.
BELPRE - Funding from the United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley allows the city of Belpre and the O'Neill Center in Marietta to offer important and valuable services through the Belpre Senior Center.
Center Manager Susie Casto said the partnership allows the city to manage and maintain the building itself while the O'Neill Center provides staff and programs.
"The partnership has worked really well," Casto said.
The arrangement began in 2008 and Casto said the center continues to see increases in attendance and participation.
In 2011, the center had at least 284 individuals participating in 87 different activities a total of 12,910 times.
"In comparison to 2010, that is a 7 percent increase in participation and a 17 percent increase in activities offered," Casto said.
In a recent survey conducted by the Belpre Senior Center, 83 percent of those who attended events at the center reported feeling welcome.
"More than 50 percent had invited friends of family to join them at the center," she said.
Casto said the purpose of the center is to "keep seniors H.I.P.," an acronym meaning healthy, independent and productive.
Through the efforts of the O'Neill Center and area partners such as Marietta Memorial Hospital, the Belpre Senior Center offers health classes and consultations.
"We encourage people to learn through education classes and presentations from health officials," Casto said.
The center also stresses physical activity and community service.
"We are helping people to understand their experience and their maturity is a plus, that they still have value and can contribute to their community," she said.
The center also offers numerous events, from twice-weekly lunches to bingo nights and other special events.
Casto said funding from the United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley allows the city and O'Neill Center to continue the contract each year.
"That contract allows all of this to happen," she said. "That is a major contribution (from the United Way), a very important contribution for us."