Despite the change in name and funding source, staff at a Love County non-profit say they are dedicated to continue to fulfill the mission of helping senior citizens, and have plans to expand services in the future.
The Love County Senior Program was established April 1 after the Love County government came forward to become the main funding source for the program, which oversees the Silver Stars program and the Drive by Fruiting with the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, and encourages its hundreds of volunteers to serve area non-profits that include the hospital, museum and library in Love County.
Previously known as the Love and Marshall Counties Retired Senior Volunteer Program, executive director Eyvonna Lemons says after receiving word that the volunteer senior service would not receive an annual grant that operated as a main funding source, she began looking for new donors and grants to keep the program going.
“The Love County Commissioners already said they would help us. They told us, they didn’t want to see the program leave,” Lemons said. “We feel extremely blessed that we had people put their faith in us to continue to do what we have done.”
Since the beginning of April, Lemons has worked to secure non-profit status, establish the bylaws and mission statement, as well as contacting past volunteers on the organization’s status. The new program will serve seniors in Love County.
Additionally, the Love County Senior Program will soon move into a permanent location directly across from the Mercy Health Love County in Marietta at 235 Wanda St.
Lemons says the Love County Senior Program is ready to take off. The program offers seniors, ages 55 and older, opportunities to get involve and volunteer in the community as well as provide services to seniors in need. The organization hopes to build its volunteer list to 125 to 135 names of seniors who wish to become involved in the community.
“You would not see the food programs; the Silver Stars at Christmastime,” Lemons says. “You wouldn’t see any of that.”
The organization will house the Silver Stars program which began in 2007 with 27 at-risk senior citizens receiving items from a Christmas wish list and a food basket. Last Christmas, 288 seniors without family members in the area received clothing, electric blankets, shoes and more from their wish list, along with food items to fill their food pantry.
The Drive by Fruiting program takes place once a month as volunteers pack bags with three meals and snacks for senior citizens. The sacks can contain potatoes, tomatoes, apples, oranges, bananas and more home delivered to seniors. More volunteers load up the sacks and drive across Love County delivering to seniors in need. The program is part of a collaboration with Mercy Health and the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.
The organization plans the annual Love County health fair each October, and is actively involved in the development of the new community park in Marietta called Legacy Park.
Lemons says it has been her goal since becoming involved in the organization to see services expand and reach more senior citizens.
“It grew just leaps and bounds,” Lemons says. “It has just continued to grow.”
As Lemons and the organization’s board look to the future, they hope to develop new programs, including a recycling program and a clothing bank.
Currently, Lemons is seeking funding for beginning an emergency bucket program. The emergency buckets would contain flashlights, a weather radio, batteries, first aid kit, solar blanket and more. The buckets would be given to at-risk seniors, those who may live alone or away from family members and may be forced to ride out a storm in their home.
The bucket items could help the senior survive until help was able to come to them, Lemons says.
Lemons says the future is bright for the Love County Senior Program.
“All of our programs are oriented to serve the community,” Lemons says. “We are going to keep doing what we’ve done and positively impact the community.”