More than anything, Lila Unruh of Durham said, it’s the fellowship in which the value lies.
Unruh is the Chairman of Senior Citizens of Marion County, Inc., an organization composed of an amalgam of representatives from various committees and boards. The group meets monthly in different towns around the county and brings the fellowship — and information on resources for seniors — with them.
“I think that’s the big thing with older people, we just enjoy the friendship so much,” Unruh said.
The group’s bylaws mirror that sentiment. The board’s purpose is to keep informed of the needs of Marion County seniors, and to coordinate and promote implementation of services, activities, and fellowship that contribute to “a more meaningful life and well-being of older persons.”
Gayla Ratzlaff of Hillsboro, head of the county department of aging and ex-official member of the SCMC board of directors, is a tax professional, and many access Ratzlaff’s tax services through the board, Unruh said.
Unruh said even if it’s helping someone that has trouble keeping up with their rent, the board will do whatever it can.
The board is also a hub for area senior centers.
“We are supporting the senior centers in our area because a lot of the same issues happening in one senior center are maybe happening in another,” Ratzlaff said. “Through that they can find out how other centers are working or what are they doing.”
In addition to working within the community, the group works with state and federal legislators to lobby on behalf of senior citizens.
Former Marion mayor Mary Olson was selected to be the county’s Silver Haired Legislator. The group meets in September with legislators on the state level to forward desires of senior citizens from all over the state.
North Central Flint Hills Area Agency on Aging board members Sue Clough and Barbara Smith also report to SCMC.
The meetings consist largely of hearing reports, Ratzlaff said.
“It’s an informational meeting that happens and then that information is given to people who go back and share it with their individual groups,” she said.
But it’s also free refreshments, a lunch, and an opportunity to bond with seniors throughout the county.
“It’s just amazing the friendships that developed between the group, myself and others,” Unruh said. “They just remain friends.”