Group provides transportation, meals
With the 65 and up population among the fastest growing in the United States according to the U.S. Census Bureau, more community services are being required to serve that aging population. One of those services locally is The Friendship Center, which provides transportation services and sponsors the Meals on Wheels program for Montgomery County.
"Those are the programs where we are seeing an ever-increasing demand," said Anna Claire Croghan, executive director of The Friendship Center. "There are fewer organizations that do services for seniors."
With locations in The Woodlands, Magnolia, Conroe, Montgomery, New Caney and Willis, The Friendship Center serves as the only organization in Montgomery County that provides the Meals on Wheels program. The Center currently has 500 seniors living in the county who receive Meals on Wheels.
The more than 160 Meals on Wheels volunteers serve about 10,000 meals to seniors each month, Croghan said.
"Meals on Wheels is a connection," she said. "Someone comes to [the seniors'] house and is continuously checking up on them."
Providing transportation to seniors is The Friendship Center's largest program. In just more than four months this year, The Friendship Center has provided 14,525 trips for seniors and the disabled. Croghan said the organization provides trips to the Medical Center and the VA Clinic in Houston, dialysis centers, grocery stores and shopping locations, doctor's offices, activity locations, and even to visits with friends and family.
Both the Meals on Wheels and transportation programs offered by The Friendship Center are done so free of charge.
Traditionally, Croghan said, seniors as they age rely on their children for care and support. However, she said, senior's adult children are often not able to provide day-to-day support, they may live out of state, or in state, but too far away to provide continuous care.
"Some people have the grace of a family member," Croghan said. "But there are some people who don't. And that's why we exist."
Not only does The Friendship Center's transportation program assist seniors with getting to and from where they need to go, it also serves as a link to the community.
"They want to not be isolated, but want that socialization and connection to the community," Croghan said. "For a lot of these seniors, they want to go to the resale shop, they want to meet their friends for a sandwich. That's not a huge request, and studies show [connection to the community] greatly reduces stress."
The Friendship Center, 2235 Lake Robbins Drive, The Woodlands, 281-292-6353, www.tfc-seniorservices.org