Madison’s senior coalitions merging into one to serve more effectively

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Madison’s four geographically based non-profit senior coalitions are merging their operations into one agency that will serve all of Madison and Monona beginning in 2019.

The coalitions provide outreach, case management, guardianship, transportation, nutrition and home chore services to help older adults maintain independence in their golden years. The coalitions have been serving the Madison area since 1973, when the East Madison/Monona Coalition of the Aging was founded, followed shortly by the West Madison Senior Coalition, South Madison Coalition of the Elderly and North/Eastside Senior Coalition.

The merge into one organization is occurring because the four organizations currently experience duplication in their efforts since they offer similar services. Additionally, resources have been shrinking as financial support is not always guaranteed, which can pose challenges for serving the growing senior population of Dane County.

The merge will maximize the coalitions’ efforts and resources.

“We’re going to be serving a lot more people, a lot more effectively,” said Marcia Hendrickson, the Executive Director of the South Madison Coalition of the Elderly and leader of the merging effort. “What better way to maximize how we can use those resources to have a great impact on the people we serve than to get rid of duplication?”

The merge should not affect seniors currently receiving services from a coalition, according to Hendrickson.

“Most of the people that we serve aren’t even going to notice [the merge],” she said, as the programs provided should not change much from what they are now. “I think it will affect them in a very positive way, because we’re going to be able to provide even more services and better services down the road.”

The four coalitions currently serve specific areas of Madison of which they are assigned. If demand is higher in one area, it creates more work for that assigned coalition. With the single organization, it will be able to respond to people in need with resources from all of the city, said Hendrickson. This is important as the senior population continues to grow and become more dispersed.

“Things are changing... People are living longer. They’re having health issues that never existed before. All of these things contribute to the need for programs and services like we provide,” said Hendrickson.

Planning for merge began in 2015 and the formalized process launched in January 2016. The new single organization will be official on January 1, 2019. Steps being taken now to prepare for the merge include filing legal paperwork, developing a marketing strategy, creating a new board of directors, and determining salaries and benefits for employees.

Hendrickson said they aim to keep all of their current employees after the merge.

“There may be some changes in their actual jobs and where they’re going to be working down the road, but as long as people are flexible and committed to the work that we’re doing, we’re going to find a place for them,” she said.

A new organization name, logo and tagline will be announced in the coming months.

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