Hinds County Human Resource Agency (HCHRA) recently invested $30,000 in the replacement of the roof at the Edwards Neighborhood Service Center.
Formerly the Edwards Attendance Center, the Edwards Neighborhood Service Center is a well-known landmark that now serves as the home for HCHRA’s Congregate Meals Program in Edwards, Mississippi. Seniors from throughout the community come to the center each weekday to enjoy a hot, nutritious, “sit-down” style fellowship lunch with their peers.
Due to the normal and usual exposure to the elements and the impact of father time, the 50-year-old building began to experience roof leaks that were beyond repair. Given the importance of the Congregate Meals Program to the livelihood and wellness of the area seniors, HCHRA dug deep and made a huge financial commitment to replace the roof to ensure that the center remained open. “Every program we operate is vital, but our senior programs are among the most important,” said Kenn Cockrell, president and chief executive officer of HCHRA. “Seniors are extremely vulnerable. Without the meals and socialization opportunities provided at our congregate sites, many of them would live in isolation and suffer from malnutrition and undetected health risks. Although there’s no type of reimbursement funding available for the $30,000 we spent on the roof replacement, there was never a question about whether it should be done. The safety and well-being of the seniors was and is our number one priority.”
HCHRA also operates Head Start and Early Head Start programs on the same campus as the Congregate Meals Program in Edwards. While the roof replacement is underway, seniors gather in a portion of the Head Start center’s cafeteria to partake in their meals, education seminars, and socialization activities. The temporary move has not dampened the mood nor the activities that the site manager, Vivian Johnson, and her seniors enjoy. Seniors from the surrounding areas continue to congregate and revel in a sense of independence and meaningful interaction, which contribute significantly to their health and happiness.
Cockrell explained that HCHRA is always exploring opportunities to strengthen its community presence and enhance the services it provides. Though plans have not been finalized, the Agency is looking at turning the Edwards Neighborhood Service Center into one of its full-service locations where, in addition to providing the Congregate Meals Program and other senior services, area residents can also receive utility payment, rental, tuition, and employment assistance.
The Edwards Neighborhood Service Center is one of three sites in Hinds County at which HCHRA offers the Congregate Meals Programs. The other sites are the Little Bethel Neighborhood Service Center and the Mt. Wade Congregate Site, both located in Terry. To participate, seniors must be 60 years of age or older and reside in Edwards, Terry, Raymond, Utica or Bolton. Transportation for all participants is provided by HCHRA. Funding for the Congregate Meals Program is provided by the Mississippi Department of Human Services Division of Aging and Adult Services through the Central Mississippi Area Agency on Aging. For more information or to sign up, call (601) 923-3930.