Senior services in Big Valley

and a story about the war between 50 plus and friends and Lassen Senior Services.

Senior citizens have lunch together at the Memorial Hall

A 50+ lunch meeting.

The senior group known as 50 + and Friends has been in existence since 1978. 50+ was organized by local seniors in order to demonstrate a base of support to facilitate government funded service in Big Valley. Their efforts were rewarded by being provided with a bus and driver for needed transportation for shopping or medical appointments. Six months later the first meals were served catered by the school with Bea Fulfer and xxxx xxxxxx doing the cooking. Meals were served Tuesday and Thursday. During school vacations Bea still cooked.

Now,  they have obtained a taxation 501 C3 status as a non profit organization. There is a story behind this!

Senior nutrition programs are usually sponsored by Federal or State programs. The funded "official nutrition program" for Big Valley is managed out of Susanville by Lassen Senior Services. 50 + for many years was informally helping with senior nutrition programs separate from Lassen Senior Services.

There has been a long term war going on between seniors in Big Valley and the official programs. This war has erupted periodically with screaming sessions at meetings and county supervisors being asked to intervene. The reasons for the discord and who is to blame is hard to pin down and no doubt has much to do with small town power struggles, hurt feelings and normal politics. There is a strong perception in Big Valley that there were some unfair employment terminations and that the clients were not being listened to. There were also strong feelings of a dangerous lack of concern over personal safety from meal preparation and transportation and lack of screening of employees.

About 2 years ago Laurie Valiquet was hired by the Big Valley Nutrition site manager as cook, and Rodney Manning was the bus driver. When the site manager suddenly quit with only a few hours notice, the managers of Lassen Senior Services panicked and drove up to Big Valley to offer assistance. Meeting with a calm Laurie, they were assured that there was no problem and she could continue to cook AND MANAGE the nutrition site. Thus the salaries went from 3 people down to 2 people and everything went smoothly.

When Laurie (and her partner Rodney) took over the nutrition program in Big Valley, together they organized picnics and field trips and assisted with home repair needs for the seniors in need, cut and delivered firewood etc. They did this at no charge. Lorrie and Rodney became very popular with theirclients and they were voted citizens of the year by the Lions Club.

Lassen Senior Services then terminated their employment suddenly and hired new managers. This termination made the clients (the seniors) angry, angry enough to call a meeting at the Memorial Hall with Lassen Senior Services and County Supervisor Brian Dahle. The meeting turned into a very heated discussion with nothing accomplished other than the 50 + group agreeing to support Laurie and Rodney in continuing to the lunch program.

We now had 2 organizations doing senior lunch, Lassen doing Wednesday and Friday and 50 plus doing  Monday and Thursday.  The seniors than broke into 3 groups, one regularly showing up at 50 plus lunches and ignoring Lassen, the other going to Lassen's lunches and ignoring  Lorrie and the third going to both. 

In the mean time, Laurie applied for a restaurant permit from the county, going through food safety inspections and all the other red tape. Laurie and Rodney on their own time repainted the kitchen at the Memorial Hall to bring it up to HER STANDARDS. The paint was generously donated by the Red Barn.

The members of 50 + purchased a very usable bus for transportation which Rodney has kept in good repair. Laurie now averages betwen 15 and 25 seniors served tasty meals including several deliveries to homebounds.

The conclusion of this story is that the members of 50 + have been for about 2 years been providing a nutrition and transportation service for seniors in Big Valley with no public money. Reality says that their energy cannot continue forever and the program needs to continue with funding other than dues and lunch donations. This is why they applied for and received a non-profit status and now are asking for community help in funding this very useful program.

You are urged to come to fund raising events sponsored by the 50 + (and dig deep into your pockets).

Credits to people who started 50+:
Doratha Kramer, May Parks, Alice Smith, Marjorie Poytress, Julia Pataye, Betty Kresge, Paul and Casie West, Marion and Thelma Graham, Marjorie and Barney Keene, Robbie and Elsie Robinson, Lillian and Albert Joiner and others.....