Payson Community Kids and the Payson Senior Center -- organizations that serve people at the opposite ends of their lives -- plan to expand their offerings using grant money from the Wallace Foundation, a private foundation established by the founders of "Reader's Digest" magazine.
The senior center, which received $10,000, plans to use that money and another grant to bolster its transportation service.
"Right now our vans run from 8 to 2," Patricia Frisbie, senior center board vice president, said. "That's all the money we have for gas and for paying a driver. Hopefully we'll be able to stretch that out at least until 5 every day."
Frisbie said the senior center is also working hard to improve and expand their meal offerings.
"We have three programs," she said. "Besides the transportation program, there's meals on wheels and the congregate meals at the center.
"When I came the food (was pretty bad), but we've hired an excellent cook," Frisbie said. "How much else do you have left at the end but maybe your meal, so we want to give them something you would want to eat yourself. Now everybody is dying to eat."
Marcy Rogers plans to use Payson Community Kids $12,000 grant to hire a half-time employee.
"I work full time and now there will be someone with the kids for two hours after school," she said. "That person can also do some running around, keep our files, work on future grants.
"We've lived on a shoestring when you think about it. We have 50 kids and last year we made $23,000. The Wallace Foundation has given us a chance to expand the activities for the children, especially after school."
Both Rogers and Frisbie are making sure the money they spend is in line with their groups' philosophies and needs.
"If we cover the basic needs -- food, clothing, education -- then maybe the low income families can pay their electrical bills, maybe they can pay the medical bills, maybe they won't ruin their credit," Rogers said.
Frisbie, who moved to Payson from Colorado in February, visited the senior center when she heard it might have to close its doors.
"The first week I was here I said, ‘I want to ride the meals on wheels van,'" she recalled. "I'll tell you, if you ever want a lesson in humility you go to those homes and see the conditions some of those people live in.
"What happened is they moved up here and retired and one of the spouses died. Now the other one is still trying to hang onto staying in their own home. For some of these people the senior center is the only place they have.
"The Senior Circle has your more affluent seniors -- the ones that have $88 to ride down to a dinner theater. A lot of our people can't afford the $3 for a lunch."
Both Frisbie and Rogers also emphasized that despite the grants, they still need help from the community.
"I could really use some more volunteers so I can have somebody there with the new employee," Rogers said. "That way the kids can be inside and outside and still be supervised."
Frisbie emphasized donations for the senior center thrift store.
"For so many years that's what kept the senior center going," she said. "We need usable clothes, and furniture is big. Furniture is gone just like that."
Working together to attain the Wallace Foundation grants has encouraged the two women to look for ways their organizations can further benefit one another.
"One of things that really surprised me here is how many elderly have no children," Frisbie said.
"The children love older people," Rogers added. "At our church the kids sought out old people to go hug and comfort, usually the ones that can't get up. They're drawn to older people."
To find out how you can help, call Rogers at Payson Town Hall, (928) 474-5242, ext. 2269, or Frisbie at the senior center, (928) 474-4876.