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Shepherd's Center Central turns 40

For a nonprofit organization dedicated to issues of aging, the timing couldn't be better to celebrate growing older.

Shepherd's Center Kansas City Central was founded in 1972, and over the past four decades has aimed a spotlight on two important community issues— the power of volunteerism and the dynamics of healthful aging.

According to JoEllen Wurth, executive director at Shepherd's Center Kansas City Central, "We are asking everyone in our community to throw away stereotypes about age and re-imagine what life can be like for people turning 50, 60, 70, 80, and beyond," she said. "There's power in large numbers, and we are feeling the age wave ripple across the Kansas City metropolitan area, including Johnson County. As baby boomers demand changes for their aging parents and for themselves, we are seeing solutions unfold to critical issues that we've advocated for years."

One such issue is helping older adults preserve their independence.  Most men and women want to stay in their own homes and in their own communities as they age, but they need access to support services.

Another issue is to empower family members, friends, and neighbors who care for older adults. Toward that goal, Shepherd's Center Central launched The Caregiver Institute in 2011. The institute focuses on the needs of these caregivers so they can better cope with the stresses that accompany caregiving.

Another issue is to ensure that midlife and older adults have ways to stay engaged in the community. Coming of Age Kansas City focuses on self-development workshops for adults 50 and older. Adventures in Learning provides lifelong learning opportunities every Friday. Both are volunteer-focused.

Wurth stresses that readers who have a special interest in the future of people over 50 are welcome to contact Shepherd's Center Central, which has staff available to speak to groups about all aspects of aging.

A synopsis of programs and services:

Meals on Wheels. Hot, nutritious meals, delivered by volunteer drivers, to residents 60 and older who are homebound. 

Caregiver Institute. Resources and information to help caregivers tend to loved ones while managing their own lives.

Adventures in Learning. A weekly program that promotes lifelong learning, community engagement, and peer friendship for older adults.

Medicare assistance. One-on-one Medicare counseling to mid-life and older adults, provided at no charge to clients.

Wheels that Care. Transportation for homebound and disabled older adults to doctor's appointments or the pharmacy, grocery store, and beauty shop, provided by volunteer drivers.

Grocery Shopper. A volunteer-led program to shop for groceries with or for elders who are unable to shop for themselves.

Coming of Age/RSVP Johnson County. Connects men and women age 55-plus with volunteer opportunities in Johnson County.

Coming of Age/Kansas City. A metro-wide initiative that promotes civic involvement, lifelong learning, and community leadership in the 50-plus population. Programs include Explore Your Future, a series of workshops to help midlife adults explore their interests and passions, identify and mobilize their dreams, and engage in meaningful community service; and Learning Lab, a professional training program to help area nonprofit leaders recruit the talents, experience, and wisdom of volunteers 50 and older.

Shepherd's Center Central
Johnson County Office

Susie Newman
Carlsen Center, Third Floor
Johnson County Community College
12345 College Blvd.
Overland Park, KS 66210
816-457-3137 •