Budget Cuts Close Senior Centers Across Texoma - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Budget Cuts Close Senior Centers Across Texoma

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KINGSTON, OK --  Seven senior centers across Texoma will close. Some have already had to lock their doors, leaving more than a dozen people without jobs and countless senior citizens without a place to go. Deeda Payton visited one of the centers in Kingston for it's last meal.

The holidays are right around the corner, and the Kingston Senior Center closure alone leaves more than 65 Kingston seniors without a place to go and at least two employees looking for work.

Kingston seniors come here to catch up, to share their day with friends and to eat a hot meal. As James Stuart, a local senior, says "I know one thing, it's a wonderful place to be."

That was the intention of this senior center when the building was donated 25 years ago by the late James and Ilene Evans. But, now the building is owned by Indian Nations Community Actions Incorporated (INCA) and is falling victim to budget cuts, along with the Southern Oklahoma Nutrition Program (SONP) that supports the center.

By November first the center will be no more, and seniors are saying goodbye with one last meal. "I'll miss the friendships that we have the most and secondly the very nutritious food." Dorothy "Dot" Taylor has managed this center for five years and was one of the employees who was cut by the closing.

Luckily, she says, she found another job at a senior center in Madill. "after this I'll go over and start cooking. I was lucky to get a job there so I'll go there as head cook."

But, with the holidays coming up, Taylor and the volunteers are worried about the more than 65 seniors and shut-ins that they serve and feed every day. "I feel bad for the older people that can't get out." "What are the homebound people going to do that can't get out for Thanksgiving?"

The closest senior center to Kingston is seven miles away in Madill, but volunteers say it will hard for one center to pick up the slack. And, many of their seniors can't drive or afford the gas. But, at least for one last day, these friends shared one last meal together and they just hope for a recovery to bring them back together in the future.

   
An INCA spokesperson told me over-the-phone Friday that they don't want to close the Kingston Senior Center, but they are making budget cuts across the board.  They say they have also had to cut their senior transportation budget (JAM) which serves Johnston, Atoka, Marshall and Murray counties.

We also tried calling the SONP, but the director could not be reached for comment.


Deeda Payton, KTEN News.