Continuing to serve

                                                                                                                                         Photo by Shari Harris
By Shari Harris

The Licking Senior Center is a not-for-profit organization consisting of two entities, the Licking Senior Center and Licking Bridgebuilders, also known as Texas County Transportation. An eleven-member board is elected to two-year terms and is responsible for the operation of the organization. Current board members include Cynthia Wampner, President; Dot Pursifull, Vice President; Lillian Maxey, Treasurer; Linda Schafer, Secretary; Rev. Eugene Maxey; Keith Cantrell; Kenneth Hollenbeck; Mary Barker; Richard Hofstetter; Connie Kell and Amanda Knoll. Currently the Senior Center has 240 members.
A large component of the success of the organization is the support it receives from the community – approximately 30 volunteers give an average of 320 hours monthly. There are only four paid workers, two in the center, and two in transportation. Two part-time drivers are on call and donate most of their time.
During the first quarter of 2020, the Licking Senior Center provided 3698 meals, an average of 57 meals per day. This number is likely decreased from what it would have been, with the dining room closed for much of March. Drive-through pickup and delivery meals have remained available throughout the social distancing period. Some necessary changes have been made to the menu to allow 10 or fewer people to assemble for food preparation.
The delivery people provide a dual service for the community. First, some of the people to whom they deliver meals are unable to leave their homes and unable to easily prepare food, so the large, balanced meal can be vital to their nutrition. Second, the delivery person is able to check on those who are homebound and assure they are well. Several times, this second service has proven to be of vital importance.
Director Cynthia Wampner says, “We have found about a dozen folks who have fallen or maybe are sick, and called an ambulance or family to come and check on them.”
The transportation part of the organization, Texas County Transportation, operates handicap accessible vans. Anyone is eligible to use the service, but you must call at least a day in advance to set up the appointment. During the pandemic, the vans are still operating, following current guidelines. The hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday (closed most holidays).
In 1973, the Senior Center opened in Licking. It became associated with the Southwest Missouri Office of Aging in 1976, and was serving 50-60 meals per day in 1993-1994. A building fund was established in October 2014; in December of that same year, a breakaway committee formed. On Monday, January 19, 2015, the Licking Senior Center began to prepare meals on its own. After 17 months of fundraisers, the money was gathered to build the current building. Thanks again to the community, the building was ready to move into on November 16, 2016.
Wampner says, “There are so many (things) to be thankful for, especially the countless hours that Lonnie Ward spent building the building, along with his buddies and so, so many others who had a hand in it.”
When the dining area is open, the center hosts Tuesday night jam sessions, toenail clinics, bank days, pharmacy days, occasional all-you-can eat breakfasts, and the monthly Route 63 Car Club meeting. Special events occur throughout the year as well.
You can contact the transportation service and senior center by calling 573-674-3558 and talk to a volunteer. Or you can contact Cindy at 618-781-6867. If you would like to become a volunteer, after filling out a volunteer application, if approved, you can start the next day.
“Currently I couldn’t be more happy with the way things are going at the Licking Senior Center, and with all the great volunteers. Thanks to all the businesses and folks who continue to support the Licking Senior Center,” said Wampner.
Wampner and husband, Jerry, who drives for Texas County Transportation, came to Licking in 2004 to buy recreational property. In May of 2005, they sold their house in Illinois and built a house on their property. Wampner called the senior center to see if someone would teach her to crochet, and Barbara Killion taught her to make several afghans. She began to deliver meals with Don and Darlena Young then became a pro tem secretary, eventually replacing Novella Murr due to illness. She helped out in transportation with Killion and Joyce Krewson, going with them to all of the MPTA conferences held across the state. In 2007, she became the volunteer transportation director of the Licking Senior Center and worked in that status for several years. Wampner became director of the center in January 2015.



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