Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

C-J Extra: Shepherd's Center Provides Learning Opportunities for Seniors

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

C-J Extra: Shepherd's Center Provides Learning Opportunities for Seniors

Article excerpt

Members of the Shepherd's Center of Topeka are hard at work these days, volunteering their time to inform older Topekans, via newsletter, about the center's Adventures in Learning classes offered in the first quarter of 2016.

One of the larger senior programs in the area, the Shepherd's Center is an all-volunteer effort supported by 22 community partners and 27 Topeka churches of varying denominations. Now a nationwide network, the idea was first born about three decades ago in Kansas City, Mo. Its mission is to enhance physical well-being, spiritual growth and learning for life for senior citizens.

Director Debra Stufflebean and volunteers Barb McLain and Mary Hoffman, a member since the Topeka location opened 13 years ago, took a break from preparing newsletters to talk about the Shepherd's Center and its programs.

Q: What does the Shepherd's Center mean to you?

McLain: Building friendships, new relationships -- that's what it means to me. As we get older, we tend to stick to our own little thing and don't get outside the box, but this way we learn new things.

Hoffman: It's great for seniors -- the speakers, the camaraderie. I've made so many new friends. We do things together, like going to the civic theater. It gets me out of the house and into the community.

Q: What was the inspiration for the Shepherd's Center ?

Stufflebean: It started because a retired Kansas City pastor was isolated while he took care of his sick wife. His church rallied around him and recognized, while there were services for those with illnesses, there wasn't a lot available for caregivers. From there, it branched into a community organization whose whole reason for existing was to keep seniors active, because active people tend to live longer.

Q: An organization such as this must be expensive to operate. How is it funded?

Stufflebean: Well, I'm the only paid employee. Literally everyone else is a volunteer. Members give of their time to help out. Speakers who give presentations for our Adventures in Learning classes volunteer their time. …

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