Editor’s note: This is part of a series of columns submitted by agencies served by the Jackson County United Way.

The Brownstown and Crothersville senior centers have wonderful, supportive, caring staff that always have time to listen, make suggestions and offer encouragement.

Both provide handicap-accessible transportation to doctor appointments, grocery shopping and personal errands and activities which allows seniors to stay in their homes.

The centers’ vans bring senior citizens to the hot lunch program, “Meals for Better Living,” offered Mondays through Fridays. Both centers also provide meals to those who are recovering from illness or are too frail to attend the center activities and have to stay at home.

The meal delivery staff are required to check on their clients face-to-face when delivering meals.

On many occasions, our drivers have found clients have fallen during the night. Meal delivery drivers are prepared when that happens. They know to call 911 for ambulance assistance and to stay with the injured client until the medical staff arrives.

Drivers also are trained to watch for signs of stroke or injury, changes in personal hygiene, changes in speech, changes in recognition or any other unusual situation. In the case of such a change, the family is contacted immediately.

Both centers receive funding from Jackson County United Way, Older Americans Act through Thrive Alliance, local businesses and caring people. Funds received are used to keep the vans on the road by purchasing fuel, repairs, insurance and helping to pay for the part-time drivers.

Are the senior vans meeting a need?

Absolutely. In the past 12 months, the Brownstown van was driven 13,204 miles, providing 3,587 trips. The Brownstown center serves all six townships in the western side of the county. In the past 12 months, the Crothersville van has been driven 2,800 miles, providing 1,002 trips.

Families are busy, with jobs and children and many activities, and some families don’t see their elderly relatives every day.

Our staff do see those folks every day, and families can rely on our agency to notify them immediately of any observable changes in behavior or health. The Brownstown center provides 597 meals per month to senior citizens (7,164 meals annually) and the Crothersville center provides 344 meals per month to senior citizens (4,128 meals annually).

Both centers have benefited from United Way’s annual Day of Caring by referring clients who need a little help at home.

In the past, United Way has literally “come to the rescue” for financial help and human help when pipes have burst, roof repairs were needed, extensive van repairs were needed, or electrical wiring needed replacement.

Both centers operate on extremely small budgets and unplanned expenses are difficult to solve, but with United Way’s help and understanding, worry stays small and gratitude becomes large.

Jackson County United Way has been a supportive partner to the centers for more than 30 years, and every year the centers express their thanks in the best way they know by inviting the members of United Way and of their communities to visit the centers and see United Way contributions at work.

The centers are open mornings, Mondays through Fridays. The coffee pot is always on, and a warm welcome will greet all visitors. Why not stop by for a cup of coffee and visit with our friendly staff and participants? We would love to meet you.

Cheryl Kenyon is public services director for Thrive Alliance, formerly Aging & Community Services of South Central Indiana. For information, visit thrive-alliance.org.