SHERIDAN — Although many people are aware that meals for registered diners age 60 and older are served at the Sheridan Senior Center, many are not aware that meals are served at meal sites in other locations around Sheridan County. From Story to Big Horn, Heritage Towers to Tongue River volunteers are instrumental in bringing meals to communities in the county.
At three locations — Heritage Towers, the Senior Center and the Tongue River Community Center – Senior Center staff work with volunteers to greet diners at the front doors, pour drinks, serve meals and help with clean up.
Two locations are volunteer-directed for the transport of meals prepared at the Senior Center to meal sites, for set up, to serve, for clean up and to deliver home-delivered meals.
Roughly a bit larger than the state of Rhode Island, Sheridan County is over 1,000 square miles home to approximately 30,000 residents according to estimates from the 2010 census.
Anyone who has traveled around the county knows how diverse the terrain and communities are. And in those communities, approximately 4,800 individuals are age 65 years or older.
Each Senior Center meal site is unique. Some meal sites — such as Heritage Towers and Tongue River Valley — serve meals five days each week excluding holidays. Meals are served in Story on Tuesdays and in Big Horn on Thursdays.
All meals are prepared at the Sheridan Senior Center and then transported in hot and cold containers to the various meal sites.
In Big Horn, meals are served at the Big Horn Women’s Club on Thursdays.
The club is set up with a long table that gives the meal a feel of a family holiday dinner. Depending on the time of year, an average of 10 to 20 diners come for a meal and to visit with friends.
“It’s like a little social club especially for some of the older diners,” says Ruth Goodenough. “They’ll come early and have a cup of coffee and visit before lunch.”
Goodenough has been enjoying Thursday meals from the Senior Center served at the Big Horn Women’s Club for 10 years and volunteering at the meal site for seven years.
Story resident Jeannie Andreason fell into volunteering at the Story meal site.
“One day, they were short-handed and asked me to pitch in” Andreason shares “I enjoyed it and have kept volunteering ever since.”
On-site dining for residents age 60 or older in Story is every Tuesday at the Story Women’s Club.Volunteers in Story are organized by husband and wife team, John and Pat Lien, who assumed the coordination position from veteran volunteers Dora and Norris Davidson. Like Big Horn meal site volunteers, Story volunteers transport prepared meals from the Sheridan Senior Center kitchen, set up, serve and clean up the Club for the weekly meal that serves approximately 25 diners each week.
“There are several widows and widowers who don’t cook like they should and it gives them the opportunity to get out and visit with other people. It’s hard cooking for one,” says Andreason.
Volunteer Linda Jeffers quips that she is a second-generation meal site volunteer, following in the footsteps of her mother, Helen Jeffers. Jeffers’ mother was a volunteer at the Senior Center over 20 years ago.
“The reason I started volunteering with meals at Heritage Towers was because my mother lived there. After mom moved out, it felt like family and still does,” says Jeffers.
Meal sites are vital to bringing meals closer to diners who live outside of Sheridan city limits.
“Without volunteers, it wouldn’t happen, it wouldn’t work,” Andreason said.