Organization supporting elderly asks to use city facilities

GOODMAN -- On Tuesday, March 19, the city opened the floor to residents to express their concerns pertaining to the city.

Jennifer Shotwell, executive director of the Area Agency on Aging, requested the city allow the organization to use one of its facilities to support the city's elderly.

Area Agency on Aging isn't a state or federal agency. Instead, it's funded by receiving grant funding from the federal government.

The program operates in senior centers and provides home-delivered meals and elderly services.

Last year, the organization delivered and served 350,000 meals. "Sixty-five thousand of those meals were eaten at senior centers," said Shotwell. "That means 65,000 meals were not eaten alone by our residents; they had a place to socialize."

Shotwell said social isolation is a "devastating condition for an older adult," and according to the CDC, "it's as damaging to your health ... as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day."

For McDonald County's older residents, it can be challenging because residents have to cover various distances to take advantage of the program, deterring them from attending its events.

"People attending in Noel [and] coming to eat at the senior center to participate in social activities -- those numbers keep declining," said Shotwell. "We take a lot of surveys, and we hear it's just too far to drive."

Shotwell petitioned the city to allow Area Agency on Aging to use the Goodman Community Center as a location for its Goodman residents and neighbors to attend the program.

"I'm looking to bring our services to the city of Goodman. We did a pilot program in Pineville for folks, and we're seeing about 35 people a week."

Shotwell said the program would have "a lot of fun services and just give folks a reason to come together and not eat alone."

The programs would use the facility one day a week for the whole day. As of now, a time and date hasn't been established but the city said it would provide information from "good people" to help Shotwell to get the program rolling in Goodman.

"I want to commend you for running that kind of program because there's a lot of times in this world today that the elderly are forgotten," said Mayor Clay Sexson. "So thank you for all that you do. We'll definitely spread the word."

In other action, the city paid bills in the amount of $10,792.34.