The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

August 21, 2012

Carl Junction program could be model for senior transportation

CARL JUNCTION, Mo. — It has been seven years — seven really long years — since Joyce Burwick’s husband died.

Since that time, the 72-year-old said, she hasn’t gotten out as often as she wanted.

Although a daughter, son-in-law and several grandchildren live with her, they keep busy running their own errands. She also said she didn’t have a well-developed network of friends her own age, and declining eyesight makes her reluctant to drive herself. So she ended up staying home a lot.

“I just didn’t do anything,” she said.

Others urged her to seek companionship and have meals at the Carl Junction Community Center, and now, thanks to a new, informal transportation program started by Smithfield Christian Church, she is able to take them up on their offer.

Gary Stubblefield, a member of the church, recently picked Burwick up one morning in the church’s van and deposited her at the front door of the Senior Center.

Stubblefield, who works in the Community Center and is executive director of the Carl Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, told Burwick that he would take her home when she was ready. But first, she said, she would need social time, lunch, a round of cards and perhaps a walk on the indoor track.

“It’s my adult time. No one talks about boys or cartoons or going potty,” Burwick said with a laugh. “It gives me a reason to get out of bed earlier, and it’s fun to meet someone my own age from my era who knew who or what I am talking about.”

Some experts say that what Smithfield Christian Church is doing — one day a week with one volunteer driver for now — could prove to be a model that other small communities could imitate to meet the needs of seniors.

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