|Mar 01, 2012 --
The City of Parlier experiences summer temperatures that average 100 degrees. These high temperatures are dangerous because children and elderly residents encounter the risk of dehydration, heat stroke, and heat exhaustion. Only residents with air conditioning have the ability to withstand such high temperatures. However, fewer than 28% of Parlier residents have air conditioning in their homes.
USDA Rural Development, through the American Recover & Reinvestment Act (ARRA), funded a $70,000 Community Facilities grant to equip a newly established community center. The City of Parlier has also contributed matching funds of $310,150 and the Parlier Redevelopment Agency (RDA) contributed $70,000 to complete the project.
The City and RDA's funds were used to purchase the property and remodel the building to make it ADA accessible and useable for senior citizens, and USDA Rural Development funds were used to purchase equipment for the new senior center.
The senior center serves as a cooling center for all the residents of Parlier in the summer and warming center in the winter. In addition, the senior center serves as a learning center for children to complete homework and interact with other students. It provides a comfortable and safe place for children to take advantage of many amenities they might not already have access too, like computers and tutoring services.
In addition, the senior center serves meals to participating residents, and offers various classes that are taught by the city and local organizations. Some of these classes include citizenship class, forklift operating class, welding, and other job training courses. Recently, 18 participants completed the forklift operations class, hosted by West Hills College, and passed the exam and received a certificate as a "certified operator." Now, they are more qualified to apply for jobs. This is especially significant since the community suffers from an unemployment rate of 27%, much higher than the national average. The community center offers many courses to participants throughout the year, including citizenship classes, electrician for residential and commercial, welding, truck driving, and beginning computer courses.
The senior center is typically open 12 hours a day, sometimes longer in the summer when temperatures are unbearable. There are currently 62 registered seniors with the senior center and it is expected that more residents will register with the recent completion.
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