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Seniors return to congregate meal sites

Seniors return to congregate meal sites
Seniors return to congregate meal sites
Julie Benkhardt, who moved to Corydon 10 months ago from Michigan, introduces herself Monday at the Joe Rhoads Senior Center in Corydon prior to eating lunch at the LifeSpan Resources’ congregate site. LifeSpan re-opened its Corydon and other sites after closing them in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hot meals are served weekdays at the centers for a suggested donation of $2.50 for seniors and $6 for those younger than 60.
Kaitlyn Clay, Staff Writer, [email protected]

There is no doubt that the pandemic negatively impacted nearly everyone’s lives in some way or another. However, most discussion of the damaging nature of the pandemic is in regard to the service industry or how it will impact school corporations in Harrison County.

But one group that was heavily affected was the senior population as many had to stay indoors at their homes in order to ensure they would not catch the coronavirus.

The Joe Rhoads Senior Center, located at 123 S. Mulberry St. in Corydon, as well as a congregate site at the Palmyra Community Center and LifeSpan’s other sites were closed to the public in March 2020 in order to better protect the county’s senior population. However, LifeSpan was able to re-open its congregate sites on Monday to serve weekday lunches for anyone who is interested.

It seemed many attendees at the Corydon site were anxious and excited for the center to re-open as it was a packed house attending for lunch. Volunteers pulled out multiple tables to place in an overflow room as the area they normally share a meal in was already full of seniors.

Julie Benkhardt moved to Harrison County about 10 months ago from Michigan — where she had lived her entire life — after the passing of her husband in order to be closer to family. She said that it has been a challenging transition, one she has struggled with, to get used to an entirely new environment during a global pandemic.

“My entire life changed when my husband, who was my best friend, died,” Benkhardt said. “And then everyone’s life changed because of the pandemic. And after I moved here, it was nearly impossible to get out and do things because we had to stay shut down for everyone’s safety. It has been a lonely adjustment, but I have to be so thankful for church and family because that has helped me.”

Benkhardt said she was excited the senior center was now open as she finally has a place to go to and meet new people and begin to see Corydon as her new home.

“The senior center in Michigan was so important to my husband and I; it’s where all our friends would meet to chat and have a good time, so I am so happy to finally start to do that here now,” Benkhardt said.

Because of COVID, the senior center in partnership with Masterson’s Catering in Louisville, which makes the food each day, have opted to keep the meals as individualized, pre-packaged meals for the time being. They also encourage patrons who have not been vaccinated to wear a mask unless they are eating.

Melissa Richardson, the director of development at LifeSpan, the organization the senior center partners with on multiple projects, said that it was just amazing to see everyone out and together again.

“The center still offers the ability to come and pick up their weekly meals, too,” Richardson said. “We do that for those who are still hesitant about getting out but still want to participate in the program. It honestly feels so great to see our seniors be able to get back out and together.”

Meals are offered weekdays for those 60 and older. A donation of $2.50 per meal is suggested, unless an attendee is younger than 60, then it is a $6 donation.

For more information, visit LifeSpan’s website,, or call 1-812-948-8330.