MOUNT VERNON — For 35 years, The Station Break has been serving the wants and needs of seniors in Knox County. A celebration of those years was held Thursday at The Station Break facility on South Main Street.
The Station Break provides a variety of healthy, educational, and fun activities for Knox County residents who are 60 years of age or older. Some of the activities it provides are computer classes, blood pressure checks, exercise, shopping trips, dinner trips, a singing choir, a bell choir and bingo.
The Station Break has also provided services such as on-site meals, delivered meals to over 350 clients, chore and homemaker programs and transportation all around the state for doctor appointments.
The home of The Station Break is an old railroad depot built in 1905. The depot served the Columbus, Akron & Cleveland and the Pennsylvania Railroads which were operating a joint venture in Mount Vernon. The railroads offered passenger service and also delivered the mail to Mount Vernon. The last passenger train to use the station arrived and departed in June 1952.
The Station Break has been serving the needs of seniors since 1974, and the building was dedicated Feb. 16, 1975. Kelly Lybarger-Dewitt has served as the executive director at Station Break since June 2007. Lybarger-Dewitt was the business manager for 6 1/2 years prior to that. She has seen a lot of changes at the Station Break over the years.
“There have certainly been a lot of changes from when the program started to the programs we have now,” she said. “I can say many seniors have been served and we are very proud of what we have here.”
Unfortunately, there will be few improvements in the future and possibly a reduction in the services offered to seniors in Knox County. It is the same old culprit hitting at other agencies, budget cuts.
“About three weeks ago I was at a meeting of the Area Agency on Aging, which brings down state and federal funding to us,” Lybarger-Dewitt said. “We got a report of a 40 percent cut for 2010. So, what I see are some cuts being made and seeing how creative we can be so we can continue to offer what is being offered now.”
Lybarger-Dewitt did say that she felt they were offering what the seniors needed and wanted. Even without funding cuts she said she couldn’t think of anything major she would want to add to the program.
“I don’t know that there’s really any service that we do not provide that’s being asked for,” she said. “I do know that they like the activity trips and some of those things might have to be cut out to keep some of the basic services like the meals and the medical transportations.”
The Station Break gets funding from several sources. Money comes from Title III funds which come from state and federal government, local levy money that is apportioned by the county commissioners among about 12 different organizations and private donations. The Station Break is an independent agency and not a part of county government.
Regardless of what the future holds for The Station Break, everyone involved loves what it offers to members of the golden-age community.
“One of the big things that we do is provide socialization for the 60 and older crowd,” said Assistant Director Bob McIlvain. “As you can see we have about 50 people already. Most of these people come here for lunch every day. They really appreciate a place they can come to every day and socialize.”
The importance of having something like the Station Break is not lost on anyone connected with the program.
“I think it serves an important purpose,” said Station Break board member Wendy Fowler. “I think what we do in terms of in-house meals, meal delivery, medical transportation and the chore and homemaking services adds a lot to our community. It helps keep seniors independent. I know that’s what motivates me to be involved.”
The biggest supporters of all are those who take advantage of what the Station Break has to offer. For most of the seniors, it makes all the difference in the world.
“I come here because it’s a good place to go,” said Peg Kroninger, who was enjoying some party mix. “It’s for senior citizens and they do a lot of things for us and with us. If it wasn’t here a lot of us would be sitting alone in nursing homes.”
But longtime Station Breaker Joe Coffing probably summed it up best.
“I like the people,” he said. “I like the way they treat you, the food that they have, the companionship. It’s just everything. It’s for people our age and it’s one of the greatest things that ever was.”