INMAN — To celebrate its 45-year history, the Inman Senior Citizens Center will hold a come-and-go open house at its facility at 103 E. Gordon St. from 2 to 4 p.m. June 9.
"We'll serve cake and homemade ice cream," said ISCC Director Charleen Thomas.
The organization was started as the Senior Citizens Club on June 5, 1974, by Art Friesen and four other men from Inman. The group spent one afternoon a week playing games and held a monthly potluck.
In 1979, incorporation papers were filed for "Inman Senior Citizens, Inc." and the building that once housed the Ely Cycle Shop was purchased for the group to use.
Arnie Neufeld, who was the director of the McPherson County Council on Aging at that time, said that as younger generations moved to other communities, a need for senior socialization was realized.
"It used to be seniors were living with extended families; that changed," Neufeld said.
The Older Americans Act, passed in 1965, brought in federal funding for transportation, meals and other services for seniors — but the majority of the funding came from local sources.
"One instrumental key to the organization of not just the Inman Senior Center, but of centers across the county, was the mill levy passed in 1979," Neufeld recalled.
Marcella Martens was hired to be the director of the center in 1980 and she held that position until her retirement in 2008. Thomas, who was hired as her replacement that same year, coordinates activities like exercise classes, foot care services and informational programs.
"Anyone with entertainment, I grab them, because that does help to bring people in," Thomas said. "They enjoy music or travelogues."
ISCC also aids in providing public transportation for seniors, whether they take a quick trip across town or a longer journey to a bigger city.
"We have several people who are veterans, so it takes them to the VA (hospital) in Wichita," Thomas said.
ISCC recently started offering coffee at 9 a.m. each Monday morning, an event that brings in several dozen attendees.
"That's really caught on," Thomas laughed. "It is super; they start my week. They're great."
ISCC serves up meals at noon each Tuesday through Friday.
"We're also the headquarters for Meals on Wheels," Thomas added.
Each church in Inman selects a month to be responsible for delivering meals.
"God bless the ones who take turns to deliver the meals, because it's right in the middle of your day," Thomas said.
A team of pool players meet regularly at the senior center in Inman.
"They're pretty competitive," Neufeld laughed.
"They take it pretty seriously," Thomas agreed.
Thomas admitted that, over her years as director of ISCC, the demand for social activities has dwindled.
"This was established for socialization, but seniors are working longer and staying more active," Thomas said.
Senior centers are pivoting to become resources for those looking for options for aging-related issues such as medical insurance,
"Even if the numbers are down at senior centers, the needs of the people are really very paramount," Neufeld said. "...The senior center, they are in the community and they are expected to know what the needs are."
Thomas also keeps an eye out for opportunities to build intergenerational relationships in Inman through the ISCC.
"Things like that help the community see we're available for doing other kinds of outreach," Thomas said.
"The senior center should not just take from the community, it should give to the community also," Neufeld said. "We have a real core of very talented people who are retired, but have a lot to contribute."
The Inman Senior Citizens Center will hold a fish fry 5 to 7 p.m. June 17. Fish will be served along with scalloped potatoes, cole slaw, bread and dessert. Donations will be used to replace flooring.
For more information about the Inman Senior Citizens Center, open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, call 620-585-2159 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact Patricia Middleton by email at email@example.com or follow her stories on Twitter at @MiddleSentinel.