By JENNA FEAR
On Monday, Oct. 29 at 11 a.m., the Lincoln County Commissioners signed a proclamation to officially declare November 2018 Embrace a Senior month in Lincoln County.
As the proclamation said: “In recognition of the noble purpose of the Lincoln County Council on Aging and in so demonstrating our gratitude and esteem to the older citizens in Lincoln County, [we] do hereby proclaim the month of November 2018 as Embrace a Senior Month in Lincoln County, Missouri.”
The proclamation also says that it is a “heartfelt salute” to the older citizens of Lincoln County for all they have achieved throughout life and for all they continue to accomplish.
“This place and the people really grow on you,” says Lindsey Kelley, marketing, fundraising and volunteer coordinator at LCCOA. “Our seniors have seen and done a lot, and that sometimes makes them harder to open up, but once they do, they’re in your heart forever.”
LCCOA, the 501c3 nonprofit for senior citizens, hopes that this month, community members will be especially aware of the value of seniors in our community, the hardships many of them face, and how individuals can help. For Embrace a Senior Month, LCCOA asks people to make donations to help the meals programs and senior centers in Troy, Silex, Elsberry and Winfield keep running smoothly and to donate their time to spend with seniors and help with events.
Donations are especially important for the meal programs at LCCOA, which help to combat food insecurity among older people in the community. According to the Food Research and Action Center, in 2017, three million food-insecure households included a senior age 65 or older. Over one million seniors who lived alone were food insecure, and approximately 524,000 of these seniors were experiencing very low food insecurity.
LCCOA provides meals at senior centers regardless of a person’s age or ability to pay, which means over 1,000 meals go unpaid every month. In an annual survey, 88 percent of LCCOA participants said the programs help them maintain better, healthier eating habits – and of 20 percent who reported making less than $10,000 annually, 100 percent said LCCOA meals prevent their food insecurity.
But LCCOA does a lot more than just make sure senior citizens are fed. They provide a community older adults want to be involved in and a place where they can go to have a good time among friends. The council holds lunch every weekday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., followed on Wednesdays by BINGO. They also host various events and parties – for instance, a Halloween party just took place at LCCOA with food, games, a raffle and a costume contest. And every Thursday morning, veterans gather there for coffee and donuts at an event known as Coffee Talk. These gatherings and events aim to keep seniors from feeling social isolation that is often common for older adults, and in the annual survey of LCCOA participants, 87 percent of clients said they do feel less isolated after becoming involved.
Linda Morse, who was present at the Halloween party, is one of the council’s most active volunteers. Back in 1997, a group of friends asked her to join them for a BINGO night at the senior center. She went, and she has gone every week since.
“I stuck around for so long because it’s just so much fun,” Morse said. She now runs BINGO at LCCOA. Linda doesn’t stick to only BINGO, though – she can be found at most events hosted by the council. She just enjoys the companionship and the good times.
LCCOA is in its 40th year of service; it opened in 1978 to provide meal programs for older adults and their spouses. Now, it keeps its doors open to welcome senior citizens from all over Lincoln County to come in for hot meals, fun times and friendship. The LCCOA slogan is “Live your best life,” and in everything they do, they strive to help Lincoln County’s senior citizens achieve that goal.