Last week as I was tapping away at the keyboard in my office, I was interrupted by a volunteer from our congregate Senior Meal Program here at the center. Her urgency unnerved me a bit as she told me that my presence was required in the kitchen. “There’s a problem and we need you now!” she exclaimed.
My thoughts raced as I ran through the endless number of emergencies in my mind. Fire? Water leak? Heart attack? “Not that, please, not that!” I thought to myself.
I hurried into the main hall to find a group of our seniors, remnants of the lunch hour already passed, still seated at the tables. A rousing, though slightly off-key, version of “Happy Birthday” greeted my ears and our meal site coordinator, Chris Duffy, walked from the kitchen cradling a Costco sheet cake. I’ll never know how they managed to fit 50 candles on there, but I did successfully draw enough breath to blow them all out.
I have spent nearly all 16 years of my time with the park district at the Bob Chisholm Community Center and I have gotten to know almost all of the seniors that attend our lunch, many of whom have been here since I started all those years ago. I have also seen many faces come and go, some moved on to other areas, some have since passed, but all have contributed in some way or another to the continued growth of this fantastic program.
The meal program is a partnership between the Sunset Empire Park and Recreation District and Northwest Senior and Disability Services. It serves both a congregate group and a home-bound population with meals five days per week. Just last month alone, the site provided 895 meals through the efforts of our Meal Site Coordinator and his crew of 25 volunteers.
Program funding comes from federal sources via the Older Americans Act nutrition programs. Funds make their way from the federal level down to the state level through the Department of Human Services and then to Northwest Senior and Disability Services who administer the senior meal programs in our region. Our program is one of just a few here in Clatsop County.
If you are like many of our diners here at the center, you enjoy sitting down for a nice lunch with familiar faces and having some pleasant conversation, something I appreciate more and more the older I get. For those 60 and over, the meal is a suggested $3 donation and those under 60 can enjoy a meal for $6.75.
Not only is it a great value, the friendships that develop help keep the spirit young. Lunch is served at 11:45 a.m. promptly, so don’t be late!
Every month, The BOB will bring you information on current events and items of interest here at the center. See you next month!