Purpose – Compassion – Enrichment – Life – Hope
By Bruce Boyer
What Kernersville organization could be needed by 100% of Kernersville residents who remain in this community during their later years of life? The answer is The Shepherd’s Center of Kernersville. As individuals face retirement, seniors look for worthwhile, enriching activities that keep them active. Eventually many reach the stage when they need someone to assist them as they seek to maintain their independence and remain in their homes. The Shepherd’s Center of Kernersville provides for both of these stages of life.
In order to serve adults who are aging or with disabilities at both stages of life, the Senior Enrichment Center provides a wide range of programs at 130 E. Mountain Street, and the 431-B W. Bodenhamer location coordinates critical services for seniors. Enrichment activities and services are both equally important.
The Senior Enrichment Center is an immensely popular program center. Located on the lower level of the Kernersville Library, its activities attracted 24,200 visits to more than 1,800 different programs held in 2016. Programs included recreational activities, field trips, special events, and a computer lab. In addition, they provided seasonal services such as assistance with income tax preparation and a mobile dental clinic. Their center is also a hub for community events as well. It is operated by Senior Center Director Lisa Miller and assisted by over 300 volunteers. Shepherd’s Center seniors also actively serve as community volunteers through a variety of senior enrichment center projects. Last year these volunteers donated over 13,000 hours to enrich our community.
The Shepherd’s Center service office is the communication center to help seniors to remain independent in the later years of life. In 2016 volunteer drivers provided nearly 2,000 trips to medical appointments, shopping, and the bank. The telephone reassurance ministry made 4,711 calls to not only check on the well-being of Kernersville seniors, but also to extend the hand of friendship to people who live alone. One local resident expressed it this way, “Living alone, away from family and friends is very difficult, especially when you are diagnosed with breast cancer. Not able to drive, I was overwhelmed by the medical appointments I was facing. I learned that The Shepherd’s Center could provide the transportation I needed. The day after my return home from the hospital I received a phone call from The Shepherd’s Center, checking on me, stating they knew I returned home alone and they wanted to be sure I was doing OK. How do you even express the warmth, care, and loving touch The Shepherd’s Center has made in my life?”
Enrichment and finding a purpose makes a difference. Ann became depressed, lonely and sedentary after a long hospitalization. The doctors told her she had to remain at home and away from crowds. Lisa Miller personally visited Ann in her home, and showed her how to make “fidget quilts” for cancer and Alzheimer’s patients as part of the “Charity Brigade,” providing Ann with a renewed sense of purpose. Eventually the doctors allowed Ann to attend activities at The Shepherd’s Center. As her energy and stamina returned, Ann shared, “The Center has improved my mental, physical and social well-being!” At one time Ann had hoped her illness would end her life, but now she says, “I know each day is a gift. I would not have gotten out of my depression on my own. You gave me a reason to get well!”
Volunteerism is important to both the volunteer and the recipient. It gives people a sense of purpose as they serve as drivers, companion sitters, visitors, transportation office workers, reception desk greeters and handy person volunteers. The Charity Brigade is an organized effort to give back to the community. Volunteerism is a way people connect with the community and can utilize their own skills to help others.
There is a tremendous need to support the most rapidly growing segment of the population. Forsyth County aging statistics predict a 60% growth in the senior population between now and the year 2030. Positioning The Shepherd Center to meet expanding needs is the goal of Ruth Woosley, Executive Director; Debbi Butner, Director of Development; Senior Enrichment Center Director Lisa Miller; and Board Chair Mark Frazier. Mark commented that the board is a “Who’s Who of community leaders in Kernersville,” which is evidence of the importance of the organization.
The services provided helps people to Age Actively in their retirement years and then to provide services that allow them to maintain independence in their home, later in life. These are stages we all may eventually face, so the organization is critical for each of us. To prepare for the rapidly growing senior population The Shepherd’s Center has created a planned giving effort entitled “Bridging to the Future.” Informational breakfasts are scheduled to show area residents how planned giving can financially benefit both the donor and The Shepherd’s Center. Information about helping to endow the center is available at The Shepherd’s Center facilities, 431-B W. Bodenhamer Street, the Senior Enrichment Center, 130 East Mountain Street or the Chamber of Commerce office.
Equally important is the effort to support the everyday operational efforts of The Shepherd’s Center. The annual giving campaign is currently underway and concludes in July. Several events are held each year to support the operation, including the Annual Auction Gala (February), A Night of Talent (September), the recent golf tournament and the October book sale. All are important to maintain the multiplicity of senior services in the Kernersville area. Did I mention that almost every Shepherd’s Center program is free? Only a few programs charge a small fee for materials or instructor fees. Seniors have spent a lifetime creating a wonderful community in Kernersville. Now it is our turn to serve them.
The Shepherd’s Center gives people a sense of Purpose, sharing and receiving the Compassion of others, Enriching their Life, and giving them Hope in the twilight years of their Life. Last year, 32,000 people utilized The Shepherd Center services, and someday, so will we.
For more information about The Shepherd’s Center of Kernersville, contact Ruth Woosley, Executive Director, at 336-996-6696 or the Senior Enrichment Center at 336-992-0591.
The Shepherd’s Center Programs and Services:
Senior Enrichment Center
Respite Care Ministry/Companion Sitting
Handy Person Ministry for Home Repairs
Telephone Reassurance Ministry
Equipment Loan of Wheelchairs, Walkers, Lifts, Etc.
Bill Radisch Computer Center
Project Joy – Delivery of Flowers at Critical Times
Project Senior Smiles – Dental Bus for Basic Care
Advocacy – Raise Awareness of Senior Issues
SHIIP Counseling – Health Care Counseling
The Shepherd’s Center of Kernersville is an interfaith ministry of volunteers which champions and sustains adults who are aging or with disabilities.