Puzzle Brings Seniors Together at The Living Well Senior Center in Rural Hall

Now seniors “puzzle” over how to keep Center funded

By Susan Williamson

Attendees at The Living Well Senior Center in Rural Hall have completed another puzzle—this one 3,200 pieces, all in somber colors and tones, depicting Da Vinci’s Last Supper. When the organization formed and opened in 2011, participants met and bonded over the first puzzle, now framed and hanging on the wall.

Board members and participants are now facing a more difficult challenge—funding for the future. When the Living Well was first organized, Rev. Keith McKinney, who was then pastor of Rural Hall First Baptist Church, had a dream of replacing the no longer needed child care program with a place for seniors to meet and fellowship. He met with area seniors and other pastors and The Living Well opened its doors in 2011. The original board members hoped that local congregations would help to fund the center on an annual basis.

As time passed, the aging congregation of the Baptist Church was no longer sustainable. REVO Church opened a Rural Hall campus in the building, welcoming The Living Well. However, over time the REVO congregation grew and needed the space occupied by the center. In December 2015 The Living Well moved to its present location in Northridge Baptist Church on Ketner Farm Road.

According to director Robin Shamel, 20 or more seniors come to the center each day for various activities including games, line-dancing, lunch and learn, knitwits, choir practice, cheerleading practice, exercise, Bible study and more. Special occasions such as Lunch and Learn programs attract a larger crowd.  More than 200 local individuals are on the mailing list, although mailings have ceased due to budgetary constraints. 2013 statistics show that 14% of the Rural Hall population is 65 & over and 37% are in the 40-64 age category, which shows the need for the center to continue to support seniors in the community.

Operating expenses for the center run close to $2,000 a month and include utilities, supplies, facility expense, liability insurance and the director’s salary. At the present time, only two local churches have an annual budget item for contributing to the center. A few additional churches have made donations. Fundraisers have included yard sales, chicken dinners and help from local eating establishments. The Town of Rural Hall also makes an annual donation to support the center. 2016 marks the third year of an expiring Winston-Salem Foundation grant.

The Board has come to the sad conclusion that unless another funding source can be found, the last day of operation will be December 15, 2016. Board members are looking for grant opportunities or other ways of securing adequate funding so the center can continue to serve local seniors. Wesley McCarter is the current board chairman, with Ruth Dowell, Chrystal Crosby, Chris Christianson, Nathan Cline, Becky Pegram and Faye Ray making up the remainder of the board.

Many of the seniors say they will have nowhere to go when the center closes. Often seniors are not comfortable driving very far and they look forward to the companionship, fun, fellowship and educational events offered by Living Well.

“We have worked so hard to try to keep this going,” said Judy Revels, “but as we all get older, it becomes more difficult.”

All donations are welcome and checks can be sent to: The Living Well Senior Center, 7911 Ketner Farm Road, Rural Hall, NC 27045.

Susan Williamson is a lifelong horseperson, writer and educator living outside of Winston-Salem. 


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