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Winchester Senior Center turns 25

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PANTRY: This was one of the shelves inside the Community Cupboard on Monday at theLiving Well Winchester Center.
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THE KEYS: A wall of keys was on display Monday at Living Well Winchester Center.
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ORANGES: Fresh fruit and produce is delivered three times per week.
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FOOD:Beverly Ferry, CEO of Living Well in Wabash County CoA, shows the contents of the freezer on Monday atLiving Well Winchester Center.
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TRANSPORATION: Wabash County Transportation serves hundreds of residents per month.
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BINDERS: Each name in these bindersrepresents a family fed by the Community Cupboard.
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SIGN: This is one of the signs inside the Community Cupboard.

by Rob Burgess - rburgess@wabashplaindealer.com

A lot has changed over the past quarter century at the Living Well Winchester Center, 232 Bond St., but the mission to help people has remained the same.

In recognition of this milestone, the Wabash City Council took a field trip to the building to hold their regular board meeting Monday evening.

During the new business portion of the meeting, Beverly Ferry, CEO of Living Well in Wabash County CoA, gave a history lesson of both the organization and the building itself. And, after the meeting she gave a tour of the facilities. The group began as the Wabash County Council on Aging in 1974. The name was changed to Living Well in Wabash County in 2011.

Ferry said their Community Cupboard feeds around 4,000 people multiple times a year. Through contracts with businesses like Wal-Mart, Kroger and Bob Evans, fresh food and produce is picked up every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

“We have deals with everybody,” she said.

Ferry said that along with the faith-based group Friends in Service Here (FISH), they help fill a very real need for many Wabash County residents.

“We are a secular group. We are not faith-based,” she said. “But, a lot of people are volunteering out of faith.”

Ferry said the Senior Center itself provides many different programs throughout the week.

“If your neighbor comes here in the morning and you come in the afternoon, you probably have no idea your neighbor comes here, unless you see their car in passing,” she said. “This room has held tears. This room has held laughter.”

Ferry said Wabash County Transportation provides rides to anywhere from 350 to 500 people throughout a three-month period.

The city owns the Senior Center building and helps provide part of the Transportation funding, but does not contribute to the pantry operation.

“We operate in silos,” said Ferry, who has been led the organization for 16 years. “We have the Transportation money. We have the Community Cupboard pantry money. And, then, we have the Senior Center money.”

Ferry said they are always the first to find out about an economic change. At the height of the recession, in 2008, the lines for the Community Cupboard would be 3 miles long.

Ferry said the cost per pound of food to them was 25 cents. In the first seven months of 2019, she said they distributed 167,000 pounds of food to more than 1,700 individuals and 506 families.

“When you’re in that gulch, not even a gap, just that huge ditch, the sides are slippery and it takes everybody to help get out of that,” she said. “Unless you’ve been in the position of you literally don’t know what you’re going to feed your kids tomorrow, you can’t fathom it.”