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Out of the Recliner and into Helping Others

Kie AnnWhen Kie Ann retired, she found herself spending lots of time in her recliner, but it wasn’t always relaxing.

“I was sitting home having a pity party for myself,” Kie Ann recalls. “I had to retire, and I was recovering from breast cancer. Some weeks, I never even left the house.”

Until a friend from church asked her for a favor. . . .

A volunteer at the local senior center was leaving. Could Kie Ann fill in one day a week? Two years later . . . Kie Ann is a key volunteer and active participant at the Dallas L. Winchester Senior Center in Wabash, IN. The organization is a member of the National Council on Aging’s (NCOA) National Institute of Senior Center (NISC).

“I started seeing old friends, talking with people, helping others, and it felt good,” she says.

Kie Ann is part of a highly organized team of senior volunteers that runs the center’s Community Cupboard Food Pantry-a critical community service that collects and distributes food to people who are struggling

“I help hand out food once a week,” Kie Ann explains. “Once a month, I also help distribute an extra box of food to low-income seniors who are 60 or over.”

The demand for this service has grown in the time Kie Ann has been volunteering. “When I started, 25 people per 2.5 hour shift was average, and our rush was 30,” she says. “Now 40 is our average, and 50+ is our rush.”

A doorway to a more active life

For Kie Ann, the pantry has led to even more opportunities to stay active and get involved through the senior center.

“It got me out of my recliner,” she says. “Now I go three times a week to a low-impact aerobics class, and I volunteer in other ways.”

When she filled in for a receptionist who was on vacation for a few weeks, Kie Ann got a first-hand look at the wide array of services the senior center provides for older adults in the community – including transportation, meals, fitness classes, help with choosing a Medicare plan, and more.

NISC members like the Dallas L. Winchester Senior Center are redefining the role of senior centers in the community, providing proven, effective programs that help seniors stay healthy and independent.

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