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Making A Difference For Senior Citizens

The Community Foundation of the Ozarks and Greene County Join Forces in Support of Seniors



  “I really don’t know what we would’ve done without the Greene County Senior Services Tax Fund, and the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, they have helped us with so many things here”. 

Mary Ann Dixon is the Administrator of The Sunshine (senior) Center in Ash Grove.  Earlier this month, the Ash Grove Sunshine Center, along with 5 other non-profits providing services to seniors in Greene County, were awarded grants totaling over $80,000 public and private dollars, through a collaborative effort with Greene County and the CFO.  “Without both of those organizations, I don’t know where we’d be.”

In 2005, Greene County voters passed a Senior Citizens Services tax of a nickel per $100 assessed valuation, and the creation of the Senior Citizens Services Tax Fund Board soon followed.  The board’s mission is, in part, to identify needs of, and target funding to non- profit organizations providing services to seniors in Greene County, and in recent years the Community Foundation of the Ozarks has been providing matching funds with private donor dollars. The Ash Grove Sunshine Center’s grant of $25,919.12 is for an emergency power system.

Randy Russell is Senior Program Officer with the Community Foundation of the Ozarks:  “We’re really glad to be part of this partnership, we started it 2 years ago.  It allows us to take funds that we have that are designated by donors to benefit senior services, and to extend those dollars through the money provided through the Greene County Senior Citizens Services Tax Fund Board.”

Denny Pilant has been a member of the Greene County Senior Citizens Services Tax Fund Board since th board formed in 2005, and currently serves as Vice Chair of the board:  “We’ve given awards to 2 dozen organizations. And it’s our intention to keep doing this.  The first thing we wanted to learn was what seniors wanted most, and luckily, Missouri State University conducted a survey of seniors, paid for by the CFO. The study showed seniors want to stay in their own homes, as long as they could do so safely.  Originally, our idea was to augment services the state and federal government provided.  It was not our intention to simply take the place of that funding because we think they have responsibilities too.  Unfortunately, state and federal funding for those services has remained static or been reduced, so we’ve had to do some things we initially didn’t intend to do, but we think it’s very important provide nutritious meals for the homebound, and those attending the county senior centers and so on”.

That’s good news to Mary Ann Dixon at the Ash Grove Sunshine Center:  “It’s a daily challenge.  We have an average of about 32 that come in to eat lunch every day, and we deliver hot meals daily to 30 homes in the Ash Grove, Willard, Walnut Grove area.  We have nutrition education and safety programs at lunch time, and we have a monthly foot clinic.  We also deliver around 150 frozen meals to the outlying community every week.”

Of the $80,000 awarded to the six non-profit groups chosen by the Tax Fund Board in the latest grant cycle, $48,000 comes from the Greene County Senior Citizens Services Tax Fund.  $32,000 is Community Foundation of the Ozarks donor designated dollars. 

The Cox Health Foundation received 2 Senior Services Tax Fund grants in April.  One, for a little over $14,000 will equip 30 Greene County Seniors with Auto Alert Lifeline services for 1 year.  A second proposal submitted by the Cox Health Foundation was granted over $12,000 for Alzheimer’s patient ability assessments and family support services.  Shallina Bowers is Executive Director of Health Care Services at Oxford Healthcare, and affiliate of Cox Health: “The partnership between the Greene County Senior Citizens Services Tax Fund Board and the CFO has really allowed us to reach a greater network of senior citizens who need help”.

Among other Greene County Senior Citizens Tax Fund grant recipients in April:  ARC of the Ozarks, for services provided to clients participating in its Day Habilitation Support Program;  The Ash Grove Food Pantry;  and Ozarks Public Television, for production of informational announcements directing its weekly audience of over 80,000 seniors to the wide variety of Greene County Senior Services support programs.  Rachel Knight is assistant General Manager of Radio and TV at Ozarks Public Broadcasting:  “This year we will produce 4, 60 second spots each focused on a different topical area. We knew we had an opportunity and a responsibility to provide information to these viewers to keep them happy and healthy and in their homes, where they want to be, as long as possible.  It was a natural fit that information they need for health and wellness will be presented in that format.”

CFO Sr. Program Officer Randy Russell:  “As needs grow, and the number of seniors grow, and the economic reality for those people increases, it’s really important that we continue to find ways to resource that.  We can extend our grant dollars much further when we rely on agencies with special expertise.  There’s no sense in us trying to recreate that.  We work with agencies that already do that and do it well, and that’s exactly what happened in this latest grant”.

For information on the Greene County Senior Citizens Services Tax Fund: gcseniorfund.org

For the Community Foundation of the Ozarks:  cfozarks.org

For Making A Difference Where you Live, on KSMU and ksmu.org, I’m Mike Smith.