Westport Cooperative Services, Shepherd’s Center merge to help baby boomers age

Since a fire destroyed its long-time home in the Westport Presbyterian Church, Westport Cooperative Services has been operating out of the Central Presbyterian Church at 35th and Campbell. The organization that was founded in 1968 to serve the counter-culture in Westport has just merged with the Shepherd’s Center Central, well-positioned to help now-aging baby boomers across the metro area.

As baby boomers age in Midtown, they’ll face a unique set of problems.

In this part of the city, aging seniors live in two-and-three story homes instead of the single levels they might find in the suburbs. They are often dependent on public transportation. And like aging baby boomers everywhere, they are looking for meaningful things to do after retirement.

A newly-merged organization hopes to be there to serve their needs.

Westport Cooperative Services and the Shepherd’s Center merged last month, hoping to become the go-to agency for aging services not just in Midtown, but the entire metro area.

The new organization,  Shepherd’s Center Central, will continue to provide the same services:, such as such Meals-on-Wheels, Adventures in Learning, HomeSharing, the Senior Companion program, and Medicare counseling.

According to Executive Director Pam Seymour, the two groups had worked together in the past and about a year ago their two boards began to discuss the possibility of consolidating their efforts.

“We needed to move in the direction of serving more people,” Seymour said. “Both organizations believed we needed to come together in order to be more effective, share our staff talents, and find more funding opportunities.”

Seymour said the huge influx of baby boomers reaching retirement age will be an issue in Midtown for the next two decades.

“We want to empower middle-aged to older adults to keep them engaged in their community,” she said.

That starts with the traditional services the two agencies have provided, such as meals-on-wheels. Seymour started out as a meal-on-wheels volunteer herself, which gave her a perspective on aging issues in Midtown.

“When we deliver meals to people still in their homes, sometimes they are really just living downstairs in a couple of rooms,” she said.

That makes them good candidates for another Shepherd’s Center Central program, HomeSharing. The program actually began 32 years ago at Penn Valley Community College. It matches up older folks who have spare rooms with students or younger people needing cheap rent or who are willing to do chores.

The merged organization will continue to run and grow its established programs, but Seymour also knows it needs to adapt to a changing future. She said aging baby boomers, more than seniors in the past, want to be involved in meaningful activities rather than some of the more traditional volunteer jobs.


Meals on Wheels volunteers: Westport Cooperative Services needs volunteers for its means-on-wheels program. Volunteers can work preparing food for delivery from 9:30-11:30 a.m. or delivering food from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Shepherd’s Center Central

Westport Cooperative Services has a long history in Midtown. It was incorporated in 1968 by three Westport churches to respond to the needs the young counter-culture that was hanging out in Westport. It ran a coffeehouse and provided other services, but after about a year turned its attention to children’s education and the elderly living in Westport. The organization operated out of the Westport Presbyterian Church on Westport Road until it was destroyed by a fire in 2011. Since then, Westport Cooperative Services has operated out of the Central Presbyterian Church at 35th and Campbell.

Shepherd’s Center Central, one of a number of Shepherd’s Centers across the country, is located at 5200 Oak.


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