SOUTH BEND — REAL Services is turning 50 and the community is invited to learn more about it and the programs it offers.
When the Studebaker plant closed its doors in 1963, thousands of workers in St. Joseph County were suddenly unemployed, including many older-generation workers who had no other training or experience.
Help came in 1966 when a man named Lester Fox founded REAL Services, focused on assisting seniors and low-income residents. Nutrition sites began opening in 1968 and Mobile Meals were established for those unable to leave their homes. These services are still available today at sites throughout northern Indiana.
REAL Services opened its central offices nearly 10 years later, in 1975. In 1985, it was designated the official Community Action Agency for St. Joseph, Kosciusko, Marshall, Elkhart and Fulton Counties. Throughout the years, REAL services grew to include a variety of programs for elderly, disabled and low-income community members.
REAL Services came to Kosciusko County in April, 1976. Back then, it was in the old Scout cabin, which has since been torn down. Today, Kosciusko County REAL Services is located at 720 E. Winona Ave., Warsaw. As far as nutrition services, the local office serves approximately 526 clients with meal sites in Warsaw, Mentone, North Webster, Pierceton, Silver Lake, Syracuse and Winona Lake.
Other REAL Services programs available in Kosciusko County include Age of Excellence recognition, aged and disabled resource center, Aging in Place, Alzheimer’s and dementia services, care management and in-home services, community services block grant, energy assistance, family caregiver program, health education for older adults, home weatherization, a nursing home ombudsman program, options counseling for pre-admission, a senior farmers market and volunteer services. REAL Magazine provides updates on these area programs.
Anyone interested in signing up to receive mobile meals can call (574) 269-1173.
Fox retired in 2007 as president and CEO and Becky Zaseck was chosen to serve in that position.