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Volunteers Mobilize In Support Of Older Citizens
oak center
Volunteers recently gathered in the kitchen of the Gladys Lemmons Senior Center to assemble hot meals for Oakdale senior citizens, thanks to donations made by community members and local businesses. Photo Contributed

While it is far from business as usual at the Gladys Lemmons Senior Center in Oakdale, these days Recreation Services Coordinator Jane Finkenbine remains busy.

In a continued partnership with Stanislaus County and increased community support, Finkenbine has seen a significant increase in the senior center weekly lunch program.

With the break-out of the COVID-19 pandemic and the shelter in place order in late March, the Senior Center daily lunch program was modified to a weekly distribution. What began as a service benefitting close to 50 senior citizens in the first week of distribution, most recently served 245 older Oakdale community members.

The lunch program provides five frozen box lunches, including milk, juice, a small loaf of bread and a sweet treat. The drive-thru service is offered each Tuesday between 11 a.m. and noon. Delivery service has also been offered to homebound seniors; those who can’t get out or have no one available to go to the center to pick up the lunches for them. The lunch program is free to Oakdale residents in need, age 60 or older.

“As long as the county tells me that they have enough of those boxes, this food distribution will just keep going,” the Recreation Services Director said. “It’s really … it’s wonderful.”

Thanks to volunteers from Oakdale Sunrise Rotary, Soroptimist International of Oakdale and varying other groups, as well as individuals, the ‘contactless distribution’ has become a well-oiled machine.

“It’s just amazing how people are taking care of each other and our seniors,” Finkenbine said, noting a bit of confusion with all the love currently being shown “seniors” – encompassing to both Oakdale senior citizens, as well as Oakdale high school graduating seniors.

Earlier this month, Finkenbine shared she was contacted by Kent Roberts of the River Community Church, reaching out to offer food and volunteer services. At the time the offer was extended, food service from the county had hit a potential snag, making the offer all the more important.

Through the help of church volunteers, financial donations, as well as food donated by Cahoots and Medlen’s House of Beef, hot meals were provided for three consecutive days.

“We were getting out hot meals, which was really a nice treat to get restaurant food and a break from the frozen lunches,” she said. “Cahoots did an amazing job making pasta for 200 people, three days in a row. It was a really nice treat.”

Finkenbine also shared the generosity of the community has contributed to continued success of the food pantry, which is separate from the lunch program. Products such as toilet paper and basic food items are donated and available for senior citizens in the community who may have a need.

“This would not all be possible without volunteers,” she said. “It is amazing the way the community has stepped up.”

“It’s very important work,” Finkenbine continued of her increased role with food distribution. “I cannot lie, I cannot wait ‘til we go back to where the senior center is open again and we’re playing cards and doing tasks and all the fun things that we do here. I totally miss that. I know our seniors are so ready to get back to the socialization.”

Oakdale senior citizens or volunteers interested in helping or utilizing the services currently being offered through Gladys Lemmons Senior Center may do so by calling Finkenbine at 209-845-3567.