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Center in need of volunteers to keep up with growth

Johnson County Senior Center’s Membership increased from the mid-300s to approximately 1,800 in the last five years. To maintain and services for the Senior Center seeks
the assistance of additional volunteers. 
Submitted photo

Submitted
by Meg Dickens

The Johnson County Senior Center is a hub of activity. Regular programming, trips, events, and clubs are constants each week. While these offerings and membership numbers continue to grow, volunteer numbers have begun to dwindle. The center desperately needs more volunteers to keep up with its growth.

The center runs with a sizeable member-to-staff ratio. Staff members include three full-time workers, one part-time worker, and a couple of specialized positions funded by grants, such as a janitor. As many are aware, the center has been steadily growing over the last five years. Membership numbers jumped from the mid-300s to approximately 1,800 in this timeframe.

Measuring the Need

Because of the limited staff numbers, the center relies on volunteers to help fill in the gaps. When volunteers are unavailable, staff are forced to leave their posts to get the job done. This can lead to other issues being put on hold to juggle the additional duties.

“Trish Eastridge (Center Nutrient Coordinator) has to leave her job to deliver meals at times, and so do
I,” explained Director Katherine Motsinger-Eller. “Danae Watson (MyRide Coordinator) is providing a
ride for a client today because we don’t have the volunteers.”

Certain programs, such as MyRide Johnson County, have been forced to stop taking new clients because the demand far outweighs the supply. This program has 59 active riders but only around 12 active drivers. June statistics showed only ten drivers accepted rides, driving 1,349 miles cumulatively.

The FTHRA (First Tennessee Human Resource Agency) recently changed how it supplies food to the center. During the pandemic, meals were sent in pre-packaged containers and warmed before serving. Now, staff members are dealing with additional serving, cooking, and clean-up that has not been an issue since early 2020. 

Opportunities for
Volunteers

Volunteers have a wide variety of jobs available to them. The center has three main categories for recruits: general center volunteer, Meals On Wheels volunteer, and MyRide Volunteer Driver. The latter two options revolve around driving, one to deliver meals and the other to transport seniors to local establishments.  

Upon agreeing to work with the center, volunteers choose their service and work with the director to set a schedule that works for them. Many general positions revolve around customer service, data entry, and light cleaning. Positions are unpaid, but the center works to make volunteers feel loved and appreciated. Special volunteer recognition events are held at
least once a year, and a volunteer is recognized each month for their outstanding service based on recommendations.  

The center staff, volunteers, and members are a family unit. Everyone works together on equal footing regardless of title. Several parties have referred to the kinship as a blessing and a home-like atmosphere.

“If you want a blessing, join the senior center as a volunteer,” Nutrition Coordinator Trish Eastridge shared. “It truly is a real blessing just by giving back.”

MyRide Coordinator Danae Watson said “All our volunteers are great. We need more people that will give a little time to help others and they will receive more of a blessing than the one receiving.

The Johnson County Senior Center is a nonprofit organization that serves seniors 60 and older. Membership is free, and volunteers of all ages are welcome. Pick up an application to join or volunteer today at the center. For more information, visit johnsoncountyseniorcenter.com.