Evart COA office completes $50,000 renovations for senior meals program

EVART — A temporary home for the Evart senior meals program will now serve as the permanent site after a $50,000 renovation was completed last month. The program had been hosted at the Osceola 4-H FFA Fairgrounds Community Building for months and moved to the cramped conference room in the COA office after a contract issue in the fall of 2012. “We moved people to our office as a temporary (solution) before we found a permanent place. When we moved them, we found our numbers grew,” said COA director Scott Schryer. “So we took our garage and did a $50,000 renovation. It’s turned into a real nice place.” The wall between the office’s conference room and garage was removed, doubling the space available for dining to a 60-person capacity. Meyering Construction of McBain completed the renovations, which include a kitchen, two storage rooms and a bathroom. “They did an unbelievable job. We gave them 90 days to complete it and they did it in 60,” Schryer said. “It turned out great. They were able to match the carpet and everything.” Beginning construction in December, the company completed the project in mid-January. Due to bad winter weather, Thursday was the first day seniors ate in the renovated facility because the program is canceled if Evart Public Schools are closed. Electa Staats, who has been a regular at the senior meals program through many different locations, said the expansion of the Evart office is her favorite location for the event. “This is very nice. It’s much better than the fairgrounds,” Staats said, sitting with her group of five friends. While many of the regulars enjoyed the size and lack of echo in the new dining space, others appreciated the proximity to the COA staff. Since the room is located at the back of the Evart COA office, staff members have the opportunity to interact with senior citizens by stopping by the dining room during lunch. “What I like is we come in here and we have all the folks up front who come out and talk to us. It’s just so handy,” said Jim Michael, a regular to the senior meals site. “We all have different questions about Medicare, hospital bills and insurance and this way we get firsthand information real quick.” COA insurance counselor Helen Decator agreed that having senior citizens close by creates opportunities for her to help them understand new insurance programs or handle insurance or hospital issues. “We like having them here,” said Decator, who rarely interacted with the seniors at mealtimes before the meal site moved to the office. “If they have questions, they can just pop in and ask me.” Schryer also takes the lunchtime opportunity to talk and laugh with seniors while learning new ways to help serve the population of individuals over 65. “On a typical basis, I’ll stop back there and talk with them about politics and new (laws),” he said. “That’s one of the advantages of having them here is we can get honest feedback.” The organization plans to purchase a Wii in the future and start a Wii bowling league for seniors. Before the renovation, the garage was used to store medical equipment that the organization lends to senior citizens. Some of the items were sold as scrap for a $600 scrap profit. The remaining pieces of equipment were moved to the Tustin facility for storage. For more information on the COA senior meals program, call (231) 734-5559.