The new Brunswick Center at Leland will serve North Brunswick’s ever-expanding population of seniors.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY Lindsey A. Miller
Every weekday just after the doors open at 8 am, local seniors file into the Brunswick Center at Leland for coffee, billiards and the news before joining in any one of the many daily activities. So many are coming, in fact, that the center, which is housed in an old public school building on Village Road, is quickly outgrowing its space.
“It is wonderful to see a steady increase in the area seniors who enjoy our programs and services,” says Jim Fish, president and CEO of Brunswick Senior Resources, Inc. (BSRI), which operates the three senior centers in Brunswick County, including the one in Leland.
Established in February 2002, BSRI is not-for-profit public charity. “Our mission is to promote the well-being and enhance the quality of life for all senior adults in Brunswick County,” Fish says. “We accomplish this by delivering programs and services that encourage independence as well as participation in the local community.”
Decades of research show that individuals and families who are able to age in place in their own communities and own homes are healthier and happier. BSRI was chartered to be the lead resource for adults older than age 60 in the county and to host to a list of services, including Meals on Wheels, Case Management Services, Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) assistance, educational outreach, transportation services, health and fitness programs, and more. For instance, BSRI serves more than 100,000 meals annually.
With the Leland area growing at an accelerated pace, BSRI recognizes the need to keep up with the rapid growth of Brunswick County. Nearly half of the county population is older than age 50, and the need for services has expanded. So much so that in February 2016 BSRI broke ground on its first-ever new construction project.
The new, two-story, 13,000-square-foot Brunswick Center at Leland is located at the corner of Village Road and Town Hall Drive, near the Leland Library and Leland Town Hall. Weather permitting, construction is expected to be completed in December and a grand-opening celebration is planned for January 2017.
The facility will operate Monday through Friday from 8 am to 4 pm and serve nearly 500 in-house (congregate) meals each day and deliver more than 1,000 meals to home-bound seniors with the help of local volunteers and the Meals on Wheels Program.
The facility, which is a North Carolina Certified Senior Center of Excellence, serves residents in all of the northern Brunswick County communities, including Leland, Woodburn, Waterford, Navassa, Northwest, Belville, Brunswick Forest, Sandy Creek and Magnolia Greens, as well as many rural communities.
“The center promises to provide a vibrant, action-packed combination of a local fitness center with senior-friendly equipment, a volunteering headquarters, an educational training center, a transportation hub, and a tasty dining locale,” Fish says. “It will provide seniors the social, physical, emotional and intellectual resources they need to remain healthy and safe in their own homes for as long as possible.”
With the grand opening of the new facility, a change in food services for all BSRI facilities is in the works. The organization is teaming with award-winning Wilmington-based Chef Ryan Gibbs to train all center employees to prepare fresh meals that include a variety of local ingredients.
“The eat-local movement is inspiring us to change the way BSRI serves meals,” Fish says. “It is important that our seniors have access to fresh food that is not only very nutritious, but delicious as well.”
The kitchen in the new Leland facility was funded through grants and donations. The Cape Fear Memorial Foundation provided for kitchen upgrades at the Southport and Shallotte centers. The full-service commercial kitchens make it possible to not only better serve the senior participants by providing fresher meals, but also expand services. “BSRI is able to now provide full services for events and fundraisers, to offer Food Preparation and Safety courses, and provide hands-on Nutrition Education to seniors throughout Brunswick County,” Fish says.
No longer relying on an outside vendor, BSRI will prepare meals in house, allowing for greater flexibility and total control. Previously meals were prepared in a central location by a private vendor and then transported to centers for distribution to sites and to homebound seniors. Because of the long distances travelled, freshness was a challenge. “Now, meals will be served fresh in house and delivered fresh as well,” Fish says.
BSRI will coordinate with local farmers and growers to introduce locally grown vegetables and fruit into the meal preparation. Once the word gets out that BSRI is improving the quality of its food services, Fish expects more referrals from local doctors and that means more seniors will be visiting.
“We then hope they find themselves engaged in other services, programs and activities,” he says. “Most importantly, controlling food services by cooking regionally allows us to meet our goal of serving more seniors without having to place any senior on a waiting list for services.”
Fish reflects on BSRI’s growth with a smile.
“We are extremely grateful to our local community leaders, Brunswick County Administration, Brunswick County Commissioners and our Board of Directors for their continued support of BSRI and for carrying out the legacy of Brunswick County’s vision, improving the future for all seniors in our communities,” he says.
The Leland facility is open weekdays from 8 am to 4 pm and offers an array of programs, services and activities. For more information, call them at (910) 371-3560.
For more information about Brunswick Senior Resources Inc. or to make a donation, visit BSRINC.org or call (910) 754-2300. All financial contributions are tax deductible.
BSRI manages and administers the following programs county wide:
- Meals on Wheels
- Patient Assistance (MARP)
- Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP)
- Medication Management
- Family Caregiver Support
- Senior Medical Patrol (Fraud Prevention)
- Medical Transportation
- General Transportation
- Case Management Services
- Ramps and Rails
- Information and Referral
- Heaters and Fans Program
- Incontinence Products Donation Programs
- Evidence-Based Programs
- Liquid Nutrition Supplement Program (BOOST)
- Weekend Supplemental Food Program
- In-Home Aide Services