Although Peggy Bryson’s new position as executive director of Perry Senior Services requires a little more time than she anticipated, that’s just fine because it gives her the opportunity to carve out a game plan for the agency.
Of utmost importance is the continuation of providing home-delivered meals and transportation to medical appointments. Lunch is also served for a $2 donation at 11:30 a.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at the center, 6901 Derbyshire Road.
“Those services are equally important,” said Bryson. “Our core mission is to do what we can to help seniors maintain their independence and enhance the quality of their lives. If we are able to help seniors stay in their homes, it’s a tremendous benefit to taxpayers as they will save tens of thousands of dollars.
“If we don’t provide these services, the burden will fall on churches and taxpayers. Seniors need us now more than ever; it is so rewarding to know that we can help meet that need.”
Except for Bryson and several part-time staff members, the center’s strength lies in its corps of 70 volunteer drivers who provide medical transportation (1,427 trips last year) and deliver meals (7,642). About 2,000 meals were served at the center.
Those needing medical transportation are asked to call at least a week in advance. All meals – the menu can be viewed at www.cicoa.org – are prepared by CICOA Aging & In-home Solutions, and people needing something to eat are asked to call 783-9231 a day in advance.
Because those on the receiving might not see another person that day, the drivers deliver the meals with a warm smile.
The drivers – all of whom have undergone criminal checks – are offered reimbursement for their mileage, but half don’t accept it, according to Bryson.
“We really have a need for drivers for our medical trips,” said Dan Moriarty, president of Perry Senior Services board of trustees. “Everybody needs to pay their civic rent.”
Moriarty, a former Perry Township trustee who owns Weichert Realtors Tralee Properties, said Bryson is doing a great job. “She has great organizational skills; she is a people person; she is a person of heart; and she’s committed to a cause and works at it. “Put all that together and you have a perfect fit for the position.
“We have some special projects that we want Peggy to look into, and we want her to look at our basics to see if what we have is what we need. We are looking to expand our opportunities for seniors. The board just met and is impressed with what she has grasped so far. It’s a great time for Perry seniors.”
Renee Lange, a volunteer who arranges medical transportation, said Bryson is very much into her job. “She is a real go-getter.”
Bryson replaces Jamie Riedeman, who has stepped back from her responsibilities but is still working in accounting. Moriarty said he is thankful that Riedeman is still around because “none of her institutional knowledge is going out the window.”
“Jamie has provided a great deal of guidance,” said Bryson, whose previous position entailed working with special needs children as a job coaching liaison with RISE Learning Center. “It was similar yet different to what I am doing now.”
The senior center will relocate to The Villas at the Plaza, 2100 block of Southport Road, once it’s constructed. The anticipated move-in date is at least a year away. The new digs will feature a 1,000-square-foot office, and the agency will have use of a community room. “We are in planning stage for what we will need,” Moriarty said.
The center has an annual budget of about $80,000, of which 10 percent comes from the United Way of Central Indiana, the rest from donations.
Some of that funding comes from the Kiwanis Club of Perry Township’s annual fish fry, which was held over the weekend at Baxter YMCA. And that’s where you could find Bryson, her husband, Allen, and their two youngest sons, Ian and Gabe, volunteering. Oldest son Andrew missed out on the fun.
Funding will also come from the Sept. 30 golf outing for seniors at Winding River Golf Course. The cost is $35 and includes lunch and dinner. Reservations can be arranged beginning Aug. 3. Sponsorships are available and range from $100 to $750.
“I want people to learn about us and our services,” Bryson said. “I want them to like us on Facebook; and I want them to love us by helping us in any manner possible, whether it be through monetary donations or volunteering their time. Do what you can to make sure seniors stay independent and healthy.”