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story.lead_photo.caption LYNN KUTTER ENTERPRISE-LEADER Farmington Senior Activity & Wellness Center celebrated its 20th anniversary last week. As part of the ceremony, the center recognized the Phillips family for their contribution in making the center a reality. Bonnie Phillips, who is deceased, sold the land to the city of Farmington at a discounted price. A plaque was presented to her children. PIctured are Carol Tyree, left, Connie Thomas, Roy Hummel, Paul Phillips, Mayor Ernie Penn and Jim Ferguson. Hummel, Penn and Ferguson served on the senior center building committee.

FARMINGTON -- Farmington's senior center is successful because it has the city and the community behind it and supporting it, said Brad Bailey, executive director with Area Agency on Aging of Northwest Arkansas.

"For these senior centers to really work, you've got to have community involvement," Bailey said during a ceremony to celebrate the center's 20th anniversary. "The common thread has been the support of the city and the citizens of a town."

Bailey has only been executive director for a couple of months but has been with Area Agency on Aging since November 1999.

"I want to say congratulations to the community of Farmington," Bailey said. "It looks great."

He threw out some statistics to show how the center impacts the community.

For the program year July 1, 2017, through June 30, 2018, Farmington Senior Activity & Wellness Center served 12,825 meals out of the building for weekday lunches. This does not include meals for special events.

The center delivered 13,380 meals to homebound residents in Farmington, West Fork and Greenland.

It provided 17,317 units of socialization and 1,244 transportation units.

Farmington also is a Medicaid provider through the AR Choices program.

"We're touching people who come to the center and people who can't come," Bailey said.

The center's operations budget is $320,000 for the current program year. The center receives state and federal monies but not enough to cover the budget. To make up the difference, the center takes in donations for its services and sponsors many fundraisers throughout the year.

Mayor Ernie Penn welcomed those to the celebration and gave a brief history of the senior center.

More than 20 years ago, a group of senior adults had a vision for their own building, Penn said. A town meeting was held on the idea and Penn remembers Jerry Hunton, county judge at the time, saying the project needed leadership.

As Hunton said this, he placed one hand on Penn's shoulder and the other hand on Jim Ferguson's shoulder, Penn said. Both Penn and Ferguson served on the Building Committee for a new senior center.

The city already had the land on U.S. Highway 62, purchased from Bonnie Phillips for a discounted price. It also had $40,000 in seed money from Area Agency on Aging but needed more money.

Penn, who was on the City Council during this time, said the Broyles Estate had bequeathed $200,000 to the city, and he and the rest of the Building Committee had to convince the council to dedicate $150,000 of this toward the senior center.

"After a lot of heated discussion, we finally got the money," Penn said.

While the construction costs were taken care of, the city still had to figure out a way to furnish the building.

"That was done by the citizens of this community," Penn said.

People came forward with cash donations and in-kind donations.

"It was definitely a project of love. We believe and I still believe our senior community is the most important part of our community," Penn said.

He said he considered it an honor to serve as mayor. However, he gave the greatest credit to his wife, Kelly Penn, who also is Farmington city clerk, saying he appreciated her support and encouragement.

"She's been my inspiration," Ernie Penn said.

Former City Council member Roy Hummel, who also served on the Building Committee, presented a plaque to Bonnie Phillips' children in appreciation for their mother's gift to sell the land to the city of Farmington.

"Twenty years ago, if someone had told me we would be gathering in a facility like this, I wouldn't have believed them," Hummel said.

He recalled a saying from his mother when he was growing up, "Give me my flowers while I'm here."

At the time Hummel said he didn't know what she meant.

"As I got older, I knew exactly what she meant," Hummel said. "Today, this senior center is a good example of that."

Preston Beeks, pastor of Main Street Baptist Church in Farmington, said the senior center has helped the community and the churches in the area.

"I've been blessed by this facility and what goes on here," Beeks said.

General News on 04/10/2019

Print Headline: Celebrating 20 Years Of Serving Seniors

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