Senior citizens in the Payson area have a friend at the Senior Center. In fact, they have a lot of friends there.
At the Senior Center there are friends to share a meal with, friends who will bring a meal to your home and take the time to visit if you are shut in. There are friends to call to get a ride to the doctor, the dentist, the beauty shop or barber. There are friends to pass the time with playing cards and other games, making music, dancing, exercising and studying the Bible.
"The Senior Center has three main functions," said Director Marsha Cauley. "We provide meals to the homebound, in-house or congregate meals at the Center, and transportation services."
She said currently about 107 members are served through the homebound program, another 50 to 80 participate in the congregate meal and two buses provide transportation.
The meals and transportation are supplemented by activities the members of the Center have expressed an interest in, she said.
Located at 514 W. Main St., the Center is in an old bowling alley, with its thrift store next door in what was once Payson's post office.
The biggest part of the space is dedicated to the meal program with its kitchen and dining facilities, and the space to load the home-delivered meals.
Cauley said the meal program activity starts at 6 a.m. with cooking. Once the food for the homebound service is ready, it is packaged, sealed and stored in transportation units that cost $500 each.
The congregate meals are served at noon, Monday through Friday and cost $3 for those 60 and older and $5 for anyone under 60.
"The need for the (homebound) service is growing so fast," Cauley said. "We need to go to three delivery routes in Payson and out to Star Valley as well."
To meet the need means purchasing more of the special transport units and getting another van and driver. So, Senior Center members are working on additional projects to raise funds. Assistance in writing grants is provided by the Pinal Gila Council for Senior Citizens and Area Agency of Aging.
The Senior Center Thrift Store is another source of funds for the various programs.
"We have eight staff members and all the rest of the work is done by volunteers," Cauley said. "There is always a need for more volunteers. Payson has neat people to work with."
The Center works with other senior service programs as well, she said.
The Center also offers a specialist in the various benefits available to older adults; experts who provide free legal service once a month; and computer education.
For more information about the Center, its menu, programs and joining, call (928) 474-4876. To contact the thrift store, call (928) 474-3205.