In a gray brick building right off First Street in Maryville, five generations of community members gather every week, sharing coffee and comfort food with lifelong friends.
The Nodaway County Senior Center brings these people together, striving to help older adults maintain independence and enable them to life without hassle and distress.
With the holidays quickly approaching, the senior center has a lot more on its plate when it comes to serving its customer base.
The nonprofit organization is taking sponsors and donations for the annual Thanksgiving Day Buffet, scheduled for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 28, which collected close to $300 in food costs in its first year.
This being the second year of an open to the public-style buffet, Senior Center Administrator Amie Firavich said the staff is looking forward to serving in the holiday season.
“It is the senior center, but we are opening it up to the whole community,” Firavich said. “There are some who don’t have a place to go on the holidays, and we realize that.”
Firacvich has been the center’s administrator for 12 years. During that time, she helped the organization get certified in the Meals on Wheels program, which is a national program that delivers hot meals straight to the homes of people who are unable to purchase or prepare meals on their own.
In correspondence with the home delivery program, which provides hot meals every week Monday through Friday, the organization also serves a large group of people in its building.
The Senior Center reports 65 homes across Nodaway County benefit from the home-delivery program, and serve on average nearly 50 people a day in the building on First Street.
In order to maintain the meal deliveries during the holiday season, the senior center partners with Business Women’s Group in Maryville to provide enough resources for buffets on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Through the partnership, meals are also delivered to public service organizations on Christmas day including the Fire Division, community jail inmates, Maryville Public Safety and Northwest University Police.
“We want service people to know they are appreciated and noticed,” Firavich said.
The organization has been around since 1987, providing 32 years of service to the county’s elderly and underprivileged through meal programs.
Senior Center regular Virginia Spoor worked for the organization in the late 80’s as a meal delivery volunteer. Spoor said she has been involved with the organization every year since then, finding the Senior Center a place she could make connections and meet new people.
“I volunteered with the Red Cross and started in the kitchen back then,” Spoor said. “I come now for the food and socializing, but when I get to see today’s volunteers and it reminds me of the old days.”
Spoor’s friend Irmale Sceiever said they met through walking on the indoor track at the Maryville Community Center and began coming to the Senior Center together shortly after.
“It’s a nice place to come because you don’t have to cook at home,” Sceiever said. “Plus, there’s always something to do here, and it’s much better than staying at home.”
The organization has begun offering gift certificates that go toward meals at the senior center. Families that live far away and can’t make it home in time have given them to elderly parents for the holiday.
“It’s just another way we have been able to help,” Firavich said. “We have regulars that have family from so far that it’s hard for them to come home. In a way, we kind of become their second family.”