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.
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.
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.