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Volunteers at counter

Volunteers prepare meals Friday for the North/Eastside Senior Coalition's lunch program at the Warner Park Recreation Center. The coalition, along with the West Madison Senior Center, South Madison Coalition of the Elderly and East Madison/Monona Coalition of the Aging, will merge Jan. 1 and become NewBridge Madison.

Madison’s four geographically based senior coalitions — which provide meals, perform chores and offer activities that help seniors live independently in their homes — are merging Jan. 1.

NewBridge Madison will replace the North/Eastside Senior Coalition, West Madison Senior Center, South Madison Coalition of the Elderly and East Madison/Monona Coalition of the Aging, all of which started in the 1970s.

“We were competing for the same staff. We were competing for the same money,” said Jim Krueger, executive director of the North/Eastside Senior Coalition, based at the Warner Park Community Recreation Center on Northport Drive. “Now we will be working together.”

With the elderly population growing and government funding for senior services remaining relatively flat, the nonprofits decided it made sense to combine, said Katie Gallagher, executive director of the West Madison Senior Center, based at the Meadowood Shopping Center on Raymond Road.

“If we band together, we can be a big voice in the city of Madison for smaller voices,” Gallagher said.

The city of Madison gave $95,000 to support the merger, and Madison Community Foundation contributed $25,000.

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Al delivering meal

Volunteer Al Kutil delivers a meal Friday at a lunch program of the North/Eastside Senior Coalition. The lunches, along with case management services, a home chore program and activities such as Bingo games and exercises classes, will continue after the coalition merges with Madison's three other geographically based senior coalitions on Jan. 1, administrators say.

The four organizations have contact with about 16,000 seniors per year, Gallagher said. They offer lunches, help with chores such as grocery delivery and arrange activities such as Bingo games, exercise classes, book clubs and foot care clinics.

“We are the adult caregivers for seniors who do not have any family or friends to look after them, or have anyone local to help them,” Krueger said.

The “backbone” service is case management, in which social workers meet with seniors to help with food, transportation, health insurance and other basic needs, Gallagher said.

The service is free for people with incomes below 260 percent of the federal poverty level, or $31,564 a year. Those who make more can pay for it.

Some of the coalitions have had waiting lists for case management, Krueger said. The merger should eliminate the waiting lists, as staff from one part of town will be able help in another area when needed, he said.

The Aging and Disability Resource Center of Dane County provides similar help, but only for up to three months, Krueger said. The coalitions can work with seniors for as long as needed, and have provided case management to some people for more than 10 years, he said.

Some of the coalitions’ services, such as a cultural diversity program and a guardianship program, are offered throughout Dane County, Krueger said.

An adult day care center run by the East Madison/Monona Coalition of the Aging is closing, but other services provided by the coalitions will continue, he said. The four locations around Madison also will remain.

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Corn, other food

Nearly 30 people attended the North/Eastside Senior Coalition's lunch program Friday at the Warner Park Recreation Center, including about eight volunteers. The lunches, offered at the recreation center or other sites Monday through Friday, will continue after the coalition merges with other coalitions in the city Jan. 1.

NewBridge will have about 40 employees and a $1.9 million budget. Its executive director will be Marcia Hendrickson, executive director of South Madison Coalition of the Elderly, located on East Olin Avenue, where NewBridge will be based. Hendrickson was not available for comment last week.

About 90 percent of the coalitions’ funding has come from Dane County, the cities of Madison and Monona, and the United Way of Dane County, with the remainder from fundraising, Krueger said.

He has brought in a larger share of fundraising at the North/Eastside Senior Coalition, and will be in charge of fundraising for NewBridge. The goal is develop a major fundraising event or other ways of bringing in more donations, he said.

“We need to diversity our funding base,” Krueger said.

To reach NewBridge, call (608) 618-0000 or go to www.newbridgemadison.org. During 2019, calls to the phone numbers for the four coalitions will be automatically transferred to the new number.

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David Wahlberg is the health and medicine reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.