Southwest City Senior Center struggles to keep doors open

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“A few months ago I was told about how the city will probably no longer support the center,” explained director Melissa Lance.

The Southwest City Senior Center does not generate income and the city is struggling to fund the facility. Its closure could have a big impact on seniors in McDonald County.

“You become tormented and locked in like a prisoner–you’re a prisoner in your own home and nobody wants that,” said senior Charles Holcomb.

Holcomb has been coming to the center for more than two years.

“I wonder where all of the senior citizens in this area are going to go to that go here everyday, because this is the only place we have,” Holcomb added.

The center provides a hot meal, but more importantly, gives seniors someone to talk to.

“If you’re shut in, you lead to poorer health and depression,” Lance explained.

Without that, it could lead to mental and physical health problems.

“It means a lot to me and the people I come to visit,” said senior Larry Reece. “There are people that come here and that’s the only meal they get throughout the day or sometimes more.”

“It all comes down to socialization and getting out to talking to people,” Lance added. “It really lifts your spirits and it gets you out the door and you’re not shutting out.”

The center is applying for a 501-C3 to receive grant assistance.

“Hopefully, we can apply for grants,” Lance continued. “We’re trying to get the word out a little bit more about our senior center and hopefully, we can get some sponsors.”

If the senior center closes, it could also affect the McDonald County Living Center in Noel. The two centers are funded differently, but both receive assistance from the Area Agency on Aging.

This organization provides meals for both centers.

If the Southwest City Senior Center shuts down, there would not be enough seniors to provide meals for and Noel would not meet the area agency revenue requirements.

“It’s the ideal place for us,” Holcomb explained. “It’s convenient and with the OATS bus that comes by and picks us up and takes us here–it means everything to us.”

To help raise money for the senior center, it’s hosting a spaghetti fundraiser dinner on October 19th. For more details on the event, click here.

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