It all started in 1973 to provide hot meals for the elderly in Fallon.
The Churchill County Senior Center has grown to become much more, however, and on Tuesday celebrated its 40th anniversary with an open house and proclamation ceremony downtown.
“This meant a lot to all of us,” said Jamie Lee, who took over as director of the Churchill County Senior Center in the fall of 2011. “We’re moving forward; we’re looking forward to another 40 years.”
Mayor Ken Tedford Jr. read the Churchill County Senior Center Day proclamation — and water was dyed blue in the city fountain on Maine Street — before a small gathering of city officials and senior center supporters.
The proclamation noted the senior center began when “the estate of Hazel Romines designated $1,000 for the purpose of providing hot meals for the elderly, and in 1973, the first Meals on Wheels board of directors was formed after receiving a $26,000 federal grant. The first meal was served at Epworth United Methodist Church as delivered by Carey’s Catering Service which also delivered meals to homebound seniors.”
Tedford added in his reading that today the senior center serves more than 70 meals per day in the dining room, delivers more than 120 meals per day to homebound seniors, serves more than 50 seniors with the Home Care Program and offers a place for seniors to learn, socialize and recreate.
In concluding his remarks, Tedford added the senior center “is very close to our hearts” in its current home at 310 Court St.
“For all of you who help the seniors, thank you very much,” said Tedford, who also serves as president of the Coalition for Senior Citizens, which was created in 1991. “To all of you working at the senior center, it’s a great thing you do for the community.”
The goal is to help those who have reached their “golden years,” according to Lee.
“We all will, hopefully, reach the golden years,” she said. “The key word is ‘all,’ for aging is a process that everyone — not a select few — experiences eventually. Aging is a simple fact of life. From a business perspective, we need to prepare ourselves and plan for our futures.
“It is how we live those golden years that makes the difference in our lives, and the role of the senior center will need to change and adapt to the needs of a growing senior community.”
Judy Pratt, who serves as vice-president of the Coalition for Senior Citizens and as chair of the Advisory Council, expressed her gratitude to Churchill County and to the city of Fallon for supporting the program.
“I think it serves a great need in the community,” she said. “With our new director (Lee), I think the senior center has seen a marked improvement in services. She’s done a wonderful job.”
Other activities are available to seniors in addition to the Meals on Wheels and transportation programs. Among those are an exercise class, bridge, pinochle and book clubs, bingo and more. Monthly blood pressure checks and medication reviews are offered, and Tax preparation assistance is available from AARP volunteers.
“There is always something going on here,” Lee said.
John Amey has been active at the senior center since 2005. He especially enjoys volunteering on Tuesdays and Fridays to call bingo. Donations from the community enable winners to take home canned food goods as well as gift cards from Safeway and Walmart.
“It’s a wonderful senior center,” he said. “Jamie and her staff have done marvelous things. I love the people there. When they come there, they have fellowship and friends.”
Amey, who said he has called bingo for seniors since 1984 in California, Oklahoma and Nevada, pointed out 18 people participated in the bingo game on Tuesday.
“I love to talk,” he said, chuckling. “I try to make it enjoyable for everyone. They come there for the fellowship, the laughing and joking. We joke around a lot.”
Margo Banse has been active as a volunteer at the senior center for nine years as a food server and backup cook. She also volunteers as a cook on the fourth Monday each month for the Daily Bread meals program at Epworth United Methodist Church.
“I do have a lot of fun, and we do get upset when we lose one or one gets sick,” she said. “It gets so you know what they need each day so when we see them coming in the door we have it ready for them.”
Muriel Rowlett explained the senior center could be described as a lifeline to many elderly citizens.
“A lot of people wouldn’t get a good meal if not for this,” she said. “It’s just a good place with a lot of good people.”
It’s not just a senior center. It’s like having a home and being surrounded by family.
“It’s a family, that’s all I can say,” Amey said. “We have people who love volunteering. I can’t say enough about what they do.”