Two local nonprofits merge to enhance services to older adults

Two nonprofits that serve older adults in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky have merged to form one of the largest local community-based organizations that provides direct services to seniors. 

The merger of Cincinnati Area Senior Services and Meals on Wheels Southwest OH & Northern KY will serve more than 10,000 seniors annually with about 150 employees and 800 volunteers. The number of meals delivered to seniors’ homes per year is likely to exceed 1.4 million. 

The organizations have chosen to use the name “Meals on Wheels Southwest OH & Northern KY” because of the strong, positive recognition of the Meals on Wheels brand. 

The leaders of both organizations are confident this action will position the organizations to provide the best possible services for many years. Seniors need these services now more than ever, not only because of the pandemic but also because of the ongoing, exponential growth in their population. That growth is outpacing the resources available to serve seniors and putting their health and well-being in jeopardy. 

“This merger makes a bold statement — and a promise: Working with our communities, our combined organization will tackle the challenges facing us so that every senior enjoys the support and dignity that they deserve,” said Jennifer Steele, who will serve as CEO of the merged organization

The larger scale of the organization, along with a $4 million grant last year from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, will fuel innovation — to bring about transformational change. The leaders also believe there is a significant opportunity to eliminate duplication of services between the organizations. 

“This is a great day for seniors and together we are going to do amazing things,” said Tracey Collins, CEO of CASS. She will be Chief Integration Officer for the merged organization. “It just makes sense with limited funding to join forces and strengthen our services for seniors.” 

The organizations have remarkable similarities, including their main missions — to help seniors live independently and thrive. Both organizations have substantial Meals on Wheels programs that provide food and a check on the well-being of seniors. Combined, the organizations have more than 135 years of dedication to seniors. 

As the nonprofits work to combine their operations, they have lots of details to sort out, but they know this: 

  • They will retain all of their programs and services. 
  • No one will lose their job due to the merger. In fact, more job opportunities are expected. 

“The merger of Meals on Wheels and CASS makes sense from every angle,” said Michael Murphy, who will be the new board vice-chair. “By coming together, these two strong organizations gain efficiencies that will allow them to channel their focus on continued growth and innovation. Every senior, and every person who cares about them, should celebrate this news — and anticipate many good things to come as a result.” 

Dan Driehaus, who will chair the new board, emphasized the important role that the delivery drivers play in checking on seniors. “Amazon knows how to deliver a box. We know the importance of visiting seniors to check on their welfare. We take time to observe their environment. We chat. We listen. We care. For many of our seniors, our meal delivery person might be the only person they interact with all day. Our meal delivery is simply an extension of our interest in their well-being.” 

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