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Protesters raise misgivings with senior center in Homer

Melissa Gagnon reading a written statement while being recorded on video during a protest on Jan. 15, 2024
Jamie Diep
Melissa Gagnon reading a written statement while standing in front of protesters holding signs and being recorded on video during a protest on Jan. 15, 2024. Protesters worked to bring awareness to alleged mistreatment of residents at Homer Senior Citizens, Incorporated.

Protesters raised signs reading, “Senior Lives Matter,” “HSC Board is negligent” and more on Pioneer Avenue in Homer on Monday afternoon. Other signs called for the center to reduce employee turnover and to have accountability in distributing medication.

The statements were directed towards Homer Senior Citizens, Incorporated, a non-profit running an assisted living facility and housing for seniors. Numerous cars drove by and honked in response to the protest.

Melissa Gagnon was one of the protesters. She says the group is raising awareness on issues they say residents are facing.

“There's neglect, poor living conditions, there’s poor nutrition. Nutrition needs are not being met, medication mismanagement,” she said.

Many of the protestors are part of a group of community members that formed on Facebook looking to address these issues. They’ve held meetings over the last few months for people to talk about their experiences with the senior center, and to discuss actions people can take.

But now they’re taking their meetings a step further after an attendee suggested holding a protest.

Debbie Turkington helped to organize the protest taking place this week. Her mother used to live at the assisted living facility, but Turkington says she moved her to a senior center in Kenai in 2020. She says the center has gone downhill since then.

“It's just not the place that it used to be where Homer seniors flocked up there to be together and to eat and play cards. And they don't do that anymore,” she said, “it's just, it's kind of sad.”

Homer Senior Citizens Board President Milli Martin said in a phone call that people speaking at their next board meeting should only bring up current issues and to file a grievance with the board.

However, Gagnon says issues have not been addressed by the center’s leadership.

We've brought these concerns to the board numerous times, and the board refuses to hear the concerns and refuses to take action. So we just want accountability,” she said.

Gagnon also says their next steps are to get people to become members of the senior center to get the board to listen to their concerns.

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Jamie Diep is a reporter/host for KBBI from Portland, Oregon. They joined KBBI right after getting a degree in music and Anthropology from the University of Oregon. They’ve built a strong passion for public radio through their work with OPB in Portland and the Here I Stand Project in Taipei, Taiwan.Jamie covers everything related to Homer and the Kenai Peninsula, and they’re particularly interested in education and environmental reporting. You can reach them at to send story ideas.