Owensville Senior Center prepares curbside meals during COVID-19 closure, facility renovation

By Roxie Murphy, Staff Writer
Posted 5/20/20

OWENSVILLE — Owensville Senior Center recently underwent a remodel during the novel coronavirus COVID-19 closure, according to Sharon Nowack, center administrator and head cook, while …

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Owensville Senior Center prepares curbside meals during COVID-19 closure, facility renovation

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OWENSVILLE — Owensville Senior Center recently underwent a remodel during the novel coronavirus COVID-19 closure, according to Sharon Nowack, center administrator and head cook, while continuing to serve curbside meals.

“It was a planned remodel but we were going to have to shut down to do it, to do the floor and that,” Nowack said. “It was something we wanted to do, but it just all fell into place with COVID and that and we were able to make it work.”

The Gasconade County Health Department had brought the chipped flooring to the staff’s attention during their previous inspection, which led to the Owensville Senior Center planning a remodel.

“We figured if we were going to replace the floor in the kitchen, we might as well replace the floor out here as well because it was the same age,” Nowack said. “It was planned, but it wasn’t planned for right now.”

The $15,000 project to replace the floor was completed by Kay’s Carpet in Owensville. The center’s volunteers also took out some walls to expand the size of the dining room and better utilize the space.

“We were able to continue serving during the remodel,” Nowack said. “When we took the walls out, we had a couple of volunteers who came in at night to take the walls out and then we would clean it up. They didn’t work when we were serving.”

Once they completed the curbside service, volunteers would come back and do more work. It took about three days.

“We did the food out of roasters for three days because we had to take everything out of the kitchen to lay the new floor,” she said. “Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of one week we made everything in roasters.”

They also had a school teacher volunteer to come and paint for them since they were off of work and employees painted the rest.

“Kay Carpet really worked with us to get it done in a small time frame because we didn’t know how long we would be shut down,” she said. “They made it happen.”

Jesse Lowder, Matt Parker and Greg Jahnsen completed the work for Kay’s Carpet.

Since they started the project, Nowack said they have gotten most everything on their wish list done, minus some shelving for dishes.

“There is little stuff that we would like to get,” Nowack said. “But we raise $55,000 a year here to keep our program going. That is $5,000 a month that we have to fundraise.”

When the group was discussing $15,000 for a new floor in addition to their normal $55,000 budget, it was a lot.

“But we didn’t have a choice and had a timeline we were going to have to get it done in anyway,” Nowack said. “Taking out the wall, doing the office and adding this other stuff was something on our wish list.”

The Owensville Senior Center is one of 31 centers in 19 counties that partners with Aging Best. That partner had a contest that challenged centers to innovate ideas to bring more people in, and the Owensville Senior Center won $500 for their idea. Those funds also went toward the remodel.

“People think of us as a nursing home, and we are really not,” Nowack said. “We are here for every senior, no matter what their income, whether they are 60 years or older. They can make a donation for a meal.”

Nowack said they came up with an idea to have a salad bar available with their meal.

“Something that would draw in the younger 60s seniors, the baby boomers,” she said. “It hasn’t started yet, because the center hasn’t been open since we done it. But we now have the means to do it and the set up.”

They also put in a specialty coffee bar with different types of coffee and tea, and pods with a Keurig, to make a special cup of coffee or tea.

“We were trying to make it comfortable, not to institutionalize it,” Nowack said. “The office was dead space, so Aging Best gave us $500 towards implementing our idea.”

Donations help fund flooring

Nowack said they have done well to fundraise the money for the renovations from their patrons.

“Our patrons here have contributed over $8,000 towards our floor, which is really nice because it then didn’t have to come out of our budget,” Nowack said. “One patron contributed $2,000 out of the goodness of their heart, knowing we serve the population that we do.”

The center usually raises within $2,000 to $3,000 of its $55,000 goal annually. They truly appreciate the extra donations to help with the flooring.

“Sadly enough, we all get old,” Nowack said. “Some people don’t realize that and some people don’t want to realize that. Someday it’s not your mom or grandma coming here, it is you.”

Since the renovations were started and completed and the COVID-19 stay-at-home order has expired, the Owensville Senior Center has gone from serving 899 congregate and homebound meals a month to 798 curbside and homebound meals, averaging about 120 meals a day.

“That’s really not bad,” Nowack said. “We are happy with that.”

When the center reopens, they will have a remodeled facility, a new salad bar and expanded coffee counter to offer.

“We are pretty proud of the center we have here and we invite anyone in the community to stop by,” Nowack said. “We can always use volunteers. What a lot of people don’t realize is you can come in and donate unopened coffee and paper goods and lemonade supplies here that we don’t have to buy then.”

Nowack says since the center is part of the vulnerable population for COVID-19, she isn’t sure when things will go back to normal, but when they do, the Senior Center will be ready.

Until then, they will offer curbside meal pickup and deliver homebound meals from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. each day and accept donations as usual. Anyone who would like to pick up a meal or have one delivered should call the Owensville Senior Center at 573-437-3096.

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