A Place to Belong: Indiana Congregation Creates Community Events for Older Adults
Each year, the National Benevolent Association invites congregations and ministries to apply for a Mission & Ministry Grant. These grants are reserved specifically for projects that will impact older adults as well as historically excluded youth and young adults. Below is a story from a grantee who received funds for their work at the end of 2021 and has been running their program continually since.
In the summer of 2021, a small group of people from our church, Countryside Christian Church in Winchester, Indiana, began meeting to talk about the need for a group for seniors in our church as well as our community at large. We’d seen many seniors, especially those who lived alone, become more isolated during the pandemic and we worried about the loneliness they were experiencing.
We spent time talking about the who, what, when, where, and why of a group like this and then worked on a name for the group. One of the committee members, who is 83 years old, came to one of our last meetings with this tongue-in-cheek name, “L’s Angels,” identifying the Ls as lunching, listening, laughing, learning, and lollygagging. The name stuck! We then turned to the National Benevolent Association for funding.
We held our first meeting in October of 2021 providing lunch for 24 people who came to hear information about Medicare Open Enrollment. We followed that gathering with an afternoon session of games in November and a special lunch and Christmas music program in December. The group took off! Each month between 25-45 people gather, averaging about 35 people regularly. In addition to game days, L’s Angels have gone to see a musical, created art, enjoyed music, learned about birding, and participated in a program that focused on balance.
We have people who attend each month, and we have others who come periodically. While many of the people attending are church members, one of the biggest surprises is the number of community members who also attend. Each month the group is made up of about two-thirds of the people from our faith community and about one-third of the attendees from the community at large. Usually, about one-third of those in attendance are men.
Not only has this program been an enjoyable experience for those attending, but it has also been good for our presenters as well. We plan to continue to reach out to other people in our community. This month, our pastor and a member will be attending Y’s Owls club meeting to talk about L’s Angels and invite their participants to attend. So far, this program has been featured in the local newspaper, but most of our promotion has been done by word of mouth.
It has been a pleasure to see an idea to help address a perceived need have such success. We are grateful for the support of NBA and hope to continue to offer this program for many more seasons!
Are you interested in receiving grant funds for your health and social service project? Consider applying for a Mission & Ministry Grant here.