In a strategic plan dated Oct. 2011, Reba Coulter, Doris Telles, and Sandra Wilkes, spokespersons for the nascent senior group Forest Folk, debuted a five-year plan that seeks to serve Idyllwild’s older population. The annotated plan examines the changing population demographic not only in Idyllwild, but in the U.S., with an expanded aging population living longer that needs association, camaraderie and social and recreational activities. The plan notes that even the definition of “senior” is changing, different from generations past, and that today’s seniors seek more activity, challenges and networking opportunities.

With the ultimate goal of creating a staffed senior center, the plan proposes objectives, strategies and a sample budget. Key objectives are to provide programs and services to adults over 50, create a marketing and outreach plan to connect area seniors with the new center, develop senior advocacy processes, obtain resources for seniors and find ways to network effectively with other area cohorts.

Objectives in the first year include raising money to incorporate the group, target at least four governmental or non-governmental agencies with which to partner productively, and develop an ongoing attorney relationship. Forest Folk was able to accomplish all of these tasks by December 2011.

Also on the list of first year objectives is community outreach to area seniors to inform them and get them actively involved in plans for and creation of the Center. Part of the strategy to bring in a larger base is to move planning meetings to an early evening time framework to allow working seniors to attend.

The Strategic Plan includes Idyllwild census data and an overview of current trends in senior services in the United States.

What the plan indicates is that the Forest Folk intend a broad and long-term outreach to area seniors and to the wider community in order to fund and staff an Idyllwild Senior Center.

To date, and at the request of County Recreation management, the Forest Folk have proposed a broad selection of field trips for which the county would provide transportation, some of it with cost to participants depending on the duration and nature of the outing.

A sampling of proposed trips include: the Living Desert in Palm Desert, an April Carlsbad flower fields visit, Balboa Park, Old Town and Seaport Village in San Diego, the Huntington Gardens, Library and Tea Room in San Marino, the Follies in Palm Springs, and the Pageant of the Masters and Sawdust Festival in Laguna Beach.

Seventeen residents visited the Mission Inn’s Festival of Lights on Saturday, Jan. 7 in Riverside. A full bus is planned for a trip on Sat. Jan. 21 to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. The cost is $25 per person. Contact GeGe Beagle at Town Hall Recreation if interested.

The Folk are hoping to schedule off the Hill outings the third Saturday of every month. They are also planning a committee trip to the Hemet Job Center to talk with representatives in the County Office of Aging and other county offices that can assist in senior outreach.

The immediate project that garnered enthusiastic support at the most recent meeting was to find a location for and begin preparation to open a community garden.

The Folk stage regular fundraisers and accept monetary and in-kind donations to fund their programs.