Hancock County Senior Services Staff-Back Row L to R: Rachel Schneider-Data Entry, Darrell Forbes-Meal Driver Middle Row L to R: Carla Early-Lewisport Site Manager, Connie Duncan-Meal Driver/Workforce Development, Ken Patterson-Bus Driver, Front Row-Christine Schroader-Meal Driver, Lona Morton-Director, Linda Sanders-Meal Driver.
Hancock County Senior Services will reopen to the public on Nov. 15. The centers at Hawesville and Lewisport have been closed since March 2020.
“It’s been a crazy ride the past 18 months, but we are so happy to soon be back serving the wonderful people of Hancock County,” said Director Lona Morton.
Morton said while the centers were closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, the nutrition program stayed very active. In a typical month before the pandemic, the nutrition program was serving 500 lunchtime meals monthly to eligible Hancock Countians. By September 2020, the number had jumped to 1,200.
“We were committed to our feeding program, and people really stepped up to make sure we were successful,” Morton said. The program is funded through state and federal pass-through dollars through Green River Area Development District, and was shored up through strong volunteerism and several private donations from the community.
The hot meals are prepared by Canteen of Owensboro, and were served either through home delivery or drive-through pickup, Monday through Friday. The delivery program grew from three regular routes to four during the pandemic, as anyone over the age of 60 was eligible through changes to qualifying factors from Governor Andy Beshear.
Extra manpower needs were achieved through volunteers, including those from the Parks Department, property valuation administrator’s office, judge-executive’s office, GRADD, and a Workforce Development Board grant.
“Everyone just responded in a tremendous way,” Morton said. “The whole staff was wonderful through the whole thing.”
Though the centers will reopen Nov. 15, the meals programs will continue to have prepackaged meals through Nov. 29. Cafeteria-style service lines will return to the centers after that date.
Morton is looking forward to returning to normal means of doing business.
“Socialization for our clients is very important to us, and the pandemic contributed to isolation for some of our people,” she said. “We did the best we could with ‘porch visits’ and reassurance phone calls.”
When business resumes at the centers, patrons can expect recreation activities such as puzzles, card games and monthly BINGO, along with partner activities from the Hancock County Public Library. There will also be educational topics presentations on issues important to seniors, along with continuing advocating for Medicare rights and benefits discussion.
“We work hard on good health promotion, like blood pressure checks, and exercise,” Morton said. “We will add a fun activity with BINGO-cise, and the exercise room will be available.”
Service eligibility begins at age 60, though the average age of patrons at the two full-time centers is more than 75.
“We are promoting our services to the younger crowd that is eligible,” Morton said. “Our primary job is to keep people healthy and fed. We want to keep the program active and fresh.”
In addition to the two full-time centers, there is a senior center at Duke, where members meet once a month for a potluck. The South Hancock center has fallen off with participation numbers, and Morton is exploring ways to breathe new life into activities there.
The Hawesville Center is located at 315 Ridgewood Drive, while the Lewisport Center is at 190 Fourth Street. Morton can be reached at 270-927-8313.
By C. Josh Givens