Cassville Senior Center celebrates volunteers with special breakfast

Wednesday, May 3, 2017
Volunteers Sybil Wills, back right, and volunteer Katie Morgan, greet guests at the Cassville Senior Center as they come in on Friday for a homemade lunch. The center’s volunteer staff, which center administrator Kristina Atwood, in background, says keeps the center running, were celebrated on Friday with a special breakfast. Wills has volunteered for two years and Morgan, five years. Julia Kilmer reporter@cassville-democrat.com

Administrator: 'We couldn't do it without our volunteers'

The Cassville Senior Center held an appreciation breakfast for its volunteers on Friday to show its appreciation for all they do to serve area seniors.

A task force of about 35 volunteers pretty much keep the center going, said Kristina Atwood, center administrator.

Volunteer Jerlene Ray, always with a smile on her face, arrives at the Cassville Center Center at about 7 a.m. each morning and works most of the day. “She puts in the most hours at six hours a day,” said Kristina Atwood, center administrator. Full of energy, Ray, who works and moves about quickly getting things done, said if she stayed home, she would be bored, so she likes getting up and helping out. Julia Kilmer reporter@cassville-democrat.com

"We have volunteers who greet our guests, take money for meals, work in the kitchen, in building maintenance, teach guests how to play games and deliver meals," she said. "We have people from Cassville Health Care and Rehab, Arc of the Ozarks and Regal help deliver meals. In 2016, we delivered 42,000 meals, including home-bound and meals served here at the center.

"With only three full-time employees that work here for Senior Age, [previously known as the Southwest Missouri Office on Aging], we couldn't do what we do without our volunteers."

Sybil Wills has been volunteering at the center for two years at the front desk. She is also on the center's board and helps with dances. One of the things she enjoys most about volunteering is reconnecting with people.

"I've known a lot of the people for 40 years and it's been real nice to get reacquainted with them," she said.

Wills is retired from the banking industry, where she worked for 34 years locally.

"When you're not working, it's easy to get out of touch with people," she said. "So it's really a great experience. I get to reconnect with the same people I waited on [at the bank]. Many times, when we're alone, we tend to hibernate and you realize that you need to get out and meet people."

Katie Morgan, five-year volunteer, works in-house at the center for the Barry County Council on Aging, which provides practical services to help keep seniors in their homes, but she also helps deliver home-bound meals, covers the front desk, serves on the board, and wherever there's a need.

"If they need any help, I help," she said. "I like helping people."

Jerlene Ray, a four-year volunteer, can be seen buzzing about in the dining room and kitchen, always with a big, contagious smile on her face.

"I do everything," she said, as she quickly rinsed off some dishes off a tray and loaded the dishwasher.

Morgan said she is at the center at 7 or 8 a.m. every morning, and works most of the day.

"Jerlene volunteers the most hours here at six hours a day," Atwood said.

"I just like getting up and doing things," Ray said. "If I stayed home, I would be bored to death."

Ray also volunteered at a senior center in St. Louis for 20 years.

Atwood said the center has ongoing opportunities for volunteer work, and it's clear from the happy faces and bright spirits seen there that the center helps local seniors in many practical ways. And, volunteers get immediate rewards for their good deeds — the comfort of knowing they are truly helping others with daily needs, whether that be a meal, companionship or other service.

"It's a good place to volunteer," said five-year volunteer and guest-greeter Neva Arnold, also bearing a smile.

"We celebrate the volunteers we have, but we are also always looking for more," Atwood said.

Anyone interested in volunteering can call the center at 417-847-0131 for available opportunities.

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