Across Lycoming County, STEP (Success Through Engagement and Partnership) Office of Aging supports individuals over 60 years of age to help them preserve their independence and remain active in their communities.
STEP provides six senior community centers throughout the county from Jersey Shore to Muncy with congregate meals and also provides home delivered meals, which is known as meals-on-wheels.
Through the home delivered meals program, a complete hot meal is delivered to persons age 60 and older, whom are homebound and are unable to cook for themselves. Caseworkers visit the people requesting these services and assess their needs and make arrangements for delivered meals. The home delivered meals program has more than 300 volunteers throughout the county. Meals are delivered each week day.
Joyce Kissinger, right, serves Don Schultz lunch recently at the Muncy Senior Center in the East Lycoming YMCA. Joyce credits the friendships she formed at the senior center with helping her through the painful time following her husband’s death.
"The meals themselves provide the vital nourishment to our senior population and the volunteers are dedicated to deliver them. But they also are providing an additional social benefit. In many cases the meals-on-wheels volunteer and the mail-carrier may be the only people some of the homebound interact with on a daily basis," explained Scott N. Lowery, Lycoming County United Way executive director.
"The meals-on-wheels program is very beneficial to our senior citizens. Not only does it provide a daily contact, but occasionally there is a need to notify the center manager for appropriate follow-up," stated Barb Shaffer, a meals-on-wheels volunteer. "I recently delivered a meal to an elderly woman and found her very ill, so I followed procedures and contacted the center manager, whom then contacted family members to let them know about the woman's condition. In return, the family was very gracious."
Along with delivered meals to seniors' homes, congregate meals are provided to senior community centers at four locations in Williamsport, one in Muncy and one in Jersey Shore. Many seniors attend the community centers every week. Some services provided are a wide range of social, recreational and educational activities. In addition, fitness and health programs also are available.
"After my wife passed, I started attending the Jersey Shore Senior Center mainly for socialization. I receive a meal each day and enjoy joining in on the activities. I enjoy stopping in to see all my friends," Wayne Hall of Jersey Shore said.
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Joyce Kissinger of Muncy not only is a congregate diner, but also volunteers at the senior center in Muncy. Joyce currently is an assistant with a meals-on-wheels driver. "Due to meeting others in the center, I have made many friends and now have a social life in the evenings as well," she said.
Fred Shrimp, Office of Aging's director explained, "Success Through Engagement and Partnership is achieved in two ways. First, STEP's programs engage individuals, families and communities in their own strategies for success - the customers become involved directly, and truly own that which they achieve. Secondly, because no single organization can 'do it all', success is achieved through partnerships with the complementary groups and entities that can also assist these individuals, families and communities."
"The services supported by United Way through the Office of Aging are akin to the tip of the iceberg seen floating in the ocean," Lowery added. "Many people have heard about meals-on-wheels and a few might be aware of the congregate meals served each weekday at the various senior centers, but even fewer have any idea about the dedication and work that goes into providing these meals each day."
Lycoming County United Way provides funding for the congregate meals and meals on wheels programs at STEP, with $17,692 allocated to both programs.
For more information on the many programs STEP has to offer, call 326-0587 or visit www.stepcorp.org. For more information on LCUW or to support the campaign that funds programs like these, contact the United Way office at 1225 Clayton Ave., Williamsport, call 323-9448 or visit www.lcuw.org.