Clintonville Home To Largest Population Of Elderly In The County

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Driver Ken Paro helps senior Edy Bowman board a bus for a trip to the grocery store.
Driver Ken Paro helps senior Edy Bowman board a bus for a trip to the grocery store.

On Sunday night WOSU TV airs the latest documentary in its Columbus Neighborhoods series profiling Clintonville.

The neighborhood might be known for a somewhat Bohemian lifestyle. But there’s another facet worth noting. Clintonville has the largest population of seniors in Franklin County. As baby boomers slip into old age, the numbers are bound to increase but preparations being made for a booming senior population.

At the Clintonville-Beechwold Community Resources Center, known locally as the CRC, driver Ken Paro is about to run his regular Thursday morning route.

“I’m on my way to go door-to-door to pick up our seniors,” Paro says.

He drives a 13-passenger van, taking seniors like Edy Bowman to the grocery store.

“If it wasn’t for CRC coming and getting me, like on a day like today that’s below zero, I couldn’t get to the store,” Bowman says.

Statistics indicate more and more aging Clintonville residents will be using the CRC. According to the latest census figures, one in five neighborhood residents are 60 or older – which is about double the city-wide average. If you include residents aged 55 and older, that’s nearly a third of Clintonville residents.

Paul Bingle is a former Clintonville Area Commission member and local community activist. Bingle has called Clintonville home for 35 years.

“It’s a place you want to stay because your neighbors are friendly. It’s a place you want to raise your family because the neighbors are nurturing and supportive of one another. It’s got good schools, it’s got good churches, it’s got good social activities. And that’s why I think we have one of the higher numbers of elderly population. People grew up here and never wanted to leave,” Bingle says.

But some Clintonville seniors are experiencing tough economic times. To an outsider, the most traveled routes through the neighborhood are deceiving says Bill Owens.

“If someone’s experience with Clintonville is to drive from I-71 to High Street on North Broadway, there’s literally mansions on both sides. With that imagery it’s difficult to imagine that anyone would be in need,” Owens says.

But hundreds of seniors regularly visit the CRC’s food pantry located just off High Street.

“We are at 14 West Lakeview at the CRC food pantry so folks are coming through getting a week’s worth of groceries that they can get once a month but there’s also folks accessing clothing, bread, and here from 4 to 6 this afternoon we’ll be handing out produce to about 150 households,” Owens says.

Owens says about a third of the food pantry’s clients are seniors. They come for groceries and they attend other events throughout the month. The CRC staff uses those occasions to check on their welfare.

“Throughout all those interactions it gives us an opportunity to touch people and see how they’re doing. And there may be things that they need us to help them with that they might not have thought to tell us about if we had not reached out at this social event,” Owens says.

Clintonville’s population has declined slightly – it’s down to around 28,000 people. The population peaked just after World War Two. But children born in the 1950s and ‘60s grew up and moved away. Now Clintonville real estate is so expensive that it remains out of reach for many would-be home owners. But, says the CRC’s Beth Stewart-McGee, there’s a slight influx of family members due to economic necessity.

“We’re seeing a lot of folks merging their households together where Grandma has Social Security and everybody moves in until they’re back on their feet,” says Stewart-McGee.

The number of seniors who will need assistance is sure to grow. The CRC’s Owens says that only a relative handful of seniors now take advantage of available services. Owens says he’s preparing for a large influx of elderly people.

“It might mean helping them access a healthcare provider; it might mean helping them figure out their finances; it might mean that we’re just helping them to identify what services they need to get there in their home,” says Owens.

But there’s also great optimism for the future of Clintonville. Resident Paul Bingle says residents take pride in their neighborhood.

“I have no fear, no worries about the community deteriorating. You won’t find that in Clintonville and that’s what gives me joy about being a part of this community,” Bingle says.

The Columbus Neighborhoods documentary about Clintonville airs Sunday night at 8 on WOSU TV.

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