United Way of the Mark Twain Area is such a valuable organization to our Senior Citizens Community Center in Paris and many other surrounding agencies. Every year our center applies for a grant from United Way. Without this grant money our organization would struggle to survive and complete our mission.

United Way of the Mark Twain Area is such a valuable organization to our Senior Citizens Community Center in Paris and many other surrounding agencies. Every year our center applies for a grant from United Way. Without this grant money our organization would struggle to survive and complete our mission.

Our mission is to provide nutritious meals and provide the physical, intellectual, emotional, social and economic well-being of older adults and those with disabilities.

Every year we have to present our request for grant funding to an allocation committee made up of several business and professional people from all the area communities that the United Way agencies serve. This year they asked us for a success story for a client of our program. I proceeded to tell them that their vision of a success story and our vision may be different.

I wanted to share this success story with the readers of Salt River Journal.

Ed Miller aka “Boston” moved to Paris in 2013. Ed was a widowed man who decided to move closer to one of his daughters. He was looking forward to small town living and being around his three grandchildren. Before Ed moved to Paris he was always questioning his daughter Kim about why she worked so hard for our community. You see Kim is a 4-H leader and is involved with the kids in our community. They do a lot of community work and help a lot of people and organizations. Kim tried to explain to Ed that our whole community is like that. The truth of the matter is that our small little town is truly committed to helping others whenever there is a need. She told him he would understand when he got here.

Ed started to come in our senior center every day for a congregate meal and he quickly made friends. After he had become a “regular” we approached him to see if he might be interested in running for a position on our Board of Directors. He was hesitant at first (probably because we all teased him about his accent) but he decided it was something that he could do to be more involved with the community that his daughter Kim and her family loved so much. Our friend was the perfect complement to our board. He had been a supervisor for years in the big city of Boston for a huge factory. He was great at problem solving and treating our staff fairly and with dignity. He donated to our center regularly too. He bought a much needed stand up freezer and he would also anonymously have days where he would pay for the meals of the first 25 people that came in for lunch. He had a way of making everyone that came in the doors feel appreciated.

“Boston’s” family quickly became our family too as they would come in and eat lunch with him as often as they could. With a hectic and busy schedule Kim was thankful to know that Ed was surrounded by people who loved and appreciated him. Ed’s health took a turn for the worse. It became more frequent that we would have to call and check on him if he wasn’t here to eat or deliver meals to his home. This is a very important part of our mission also. Helping to keep our clients from being isolated and providing a safety check.

Ed had several episodes and his health was declining. Last year in 2016 Ed passed away in his home of a heart attack. But those last years of his life were enriching. He had family and friends that meant the world to him. He didn’t die alone in Boston with no one around.

Kim approached us and asked if we could have the memorial service for her Father here at our senior center instead of the funeral home. She said this is where he was loved and surrounded by friends and she didn’t want it any other way. We graciously obliged and had his service. It was a beautiful thing to see everyone to come together and talk about their special memories and fun times with Ed. His final way to support our efforts, were memorials made in his memory to our senior center.

The Paris Senior Center is so much more than a meal. We hope this encourages people to take advantage of their local senior centers and what they have to offer to everyone in the community. Learn more at www.parisseniorcenter.com or visit our location at 112 E. Marion in Paris, MO.