WINONA LAKE — When one thinks of REAL Services, one often thinks of the mobile meals it provides throughout the area. However, there are many more facets to the organization.
REAL Services held a breakfast Tuesday morning, May 17, at Westminster Hall, Winona Lake, to highlight some of its programs. Kosciusko County REAL Services President and CEO Becky Zaseck spoke about the history of the organization and how it has grown over the decades.
REAL Services began in 1966 in South Bend, in response to the Studebaker plant closing and many older adults suddenly finding themselves in need of job retraining. Two years later, REAL Services established its first nutrition site.
Nowadays, REAL Services is a designated Area Agency on Aging and offers a list of things like Alzheimer’s and dementia services, in-home services and even energy assistance.
Guest speaker Pam Messmore told of her personal experiences when her mother was diagnosed with dementia. She introduced Devvie Carriveau, director of the Institute for Excellence in Memory Care, part of REAL Services. Carriveau came alongside Messmore to help her with planning and knowing what to expect.
Caregiver Bernita Smith talked about her husband, Ron Smith, diagnosed with COPD, and how that diagnosis has affected their lives. Due to heavy medical expenses, the Smiths lost more than Ron’s health and independence. They lost their home and their peace of mind.
Through REAL Services, however, they have been able to find a house to rent. REAL Services built a wheelchair ramp for Ron to use and even respite for Bernita.
Lead Volunteer Coordinator Allen Holt spoke of the need for more community members to give of their time. Community volunteer Jennifer Lucht spoke of being a caregiver for her parents, both now deceased, and then for her mother-in-law. The comment she has heard most from all three of them has been, “I don’t know what I would do without you.” She extended that to community volunteers.
“The community is what is making Kosciusko one of the best counties in the state,” she said. “What would we do without you?”
Those interested in learning more about REAL Services, including ways to volunteer or to donate, can click here.