It all began in 1965 when the Older Americans Act was passed for senior programs. The Coalitions were created through the efforts of the Madison Urban Ministry, neighborhood church groups and concerned citizens, the Dane County Commission on Aging, and the City of Madison. The Madison Seniors Coalitions evolved to coordinate efforts among the sponsoring groups, prevent duplication of efforts, and seek ways to fill gaps in needed services for seniors. The Coalitions goal then and now is to enhance the ability of seniors to retain independent lives.
Initial funding was granted to the Coalitions for senior outreach and nutrition sites. The meals sites were the heart of the Coalitions and a primary vehicle for sharing information on senior programs and services. As the number and needs of isolated seniors grew so did the staff and the need for additional locations. Seniors began requesting help with chores, filling out benefit applications and getting transportation to medical appointments. The Coalitions began offering more services, including case management, cultural diversity programs and the Home Chore Program.
The West Madison Senior Coalition was started with the help of churches, community organizations, Madison Urban Ministry, and others who shared a common concern for older adults. The first office was located in rooms provided by Midvale Community Lutheran Church on Tokay Boulevard.
The South Madison Coalition of the Elderly was led by Rev. Don Rudrud and Ms. Verna Pigorsch, who signed the original articles of incorporation. The first office was located at the newly built Romnes Senior Apartments on Olin Avenue.
The North/Eastside Senior Coalition was led by Rev. Gerhardt Hillmer, along with Arnold and Sylvia Foss, who signed the Articles of Incorporation that established the Near East Side Coalition of Older Adults in Madison. The first office was located at Immanuel Lutheran Church on Spaight Street.
The East/Madison Monona Coalition began when a group of neighborhood church leaders and older adults organized themselves to coordinate activities available for local older adults.