LIBERTY — To a packed house in anticipation, Pickens County Meals on Wheels held the grand opening of the new McKissick Center for Senior Wellness in Liberty to usher in a new era for seniors in Pickens County.
The ribbon cutting and open house was held with Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster and state delegation representatives and local administration in attendance, along with many others who have participated in the drive for the senior center or will benefit from its offerings, such as communal dining and classes for exercise and opportunities to socialize.
With the rapidly increasing growth of seniors in Pickens County, many on hand were in agreement the new McKissick Center is a great addition.
“When Pickens County is on the verge of doubling its senior citizen population, the McKissick Center for Senior Wellness will help in adapting to the new reality,” Rep. Neal Collins said following the ceremony on July 24. “I commend the public-private partnership, including the cities, county and state along with the McKissick family and Meals on Wheels. The Center is an example of what can happen when people work together.”
McMaster, one of the keynote speakers, heads the Office on Aging as a part of the Lt. Governor’s cabinet positions. He said he was delighted to see the turnout, but more importantly, saw the vision of Pickens County Meals on Wheels’ innovative approach and predicted it “would be a model across the state, if not the nation.”
“The senior population in South Carolina will double by 2030. Currently, we’re not adequately prepared for this increase in demand for services,” McMaster said. “The primary goal of the Office on Aging is to strengthen the effectiveness of senior centers in our state. We know that the Office on Aging’s investment in this project will help Pickens County seniors live active, healthy, meaningful lives while remaining in their own homes.”
Meta Bowers, director for Pickens County Meals on Wheels, said there were many groups, agencies and individuals involved in making the center a reality, including Pickens County Council.
“The campus was purchased and designed with the community in mind,” County Councilman Neil Smith said. “I am pleased with the final outcome and know this campus will provide long-term solutions for the community. It is an honor to have helped establish a facility that will serve the diverse needs of our seniors for years to come.”
The idea for the McKissick Center began five years ago when the School District of Pickens County was in the midst of its building program and facilities began to become available. Bowers and a few others recognized two things, a need and an opportunity.
“When all of this began I had no idea the idea was going to grow as much as it has or that we would be able to offer so much more to the seniors in Pickens County,” Bowers said before the ribbon cutting. “We knew we had a need for a kitchen, that we could provide more meals and do it more efficiently and cost effective. Now we have so much more to offer and our seniors have a place to call their own. I can’t thank all of the people and groups who donated their time, money or efforts to this cause enough. This wouldn’t have been possible without so many pulling together.”
The overall project has was supported through a combination of private gifts from the Walmart Foundation’s State Giving Program, Nalley Charitable Foundation, Reliable Automatic Sprinkler Co., Pickens County United Way, Duke Energy Foundation, The Grumpy Old Men of Six Mile, PCMOW board members, staff and individuals.
These private sources of funding, along with assistance from the City of Easley, the City of Liberty and investments from Pickens County Council and the Lt. Governor’s Office on Aging’s Permanent Improvement Project grant helped make the center a possibility.
While meals on a daily basis remains the focus of Pickens County Meals on Wheels, the McKissick Center for Senior Wellness is the home for the newly established PCMOW kitchen, its home-delivered meal program, the Young at Heart dining and activity center and minor home repair program.
Reach D. C. Moody at 864-855-0355.