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Livingston County History
Celebrating 150 Years, 1821-1981

Published by The Retired Senior Volunteer Program
reprinted by permission

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The Livingston County Multi-Purpose Senior Center was established in Chillicothe in February 1974. The primary purpose is to provide direct services to the senior citizens, such as the congregate meals, recreation, transportation, etc. The Senior Center and the Congregate Meals programs were made possible by utilizing federal funds provided by Title III of the Older American Act of 1965. The first Congregate Meals were served in the Cornerstone, corner of Church & Leeper Street under the direction of Mrs. Pam Russell, director of Livingston Co. Multi-Purpose Senior Center.

In September 1975, Linda Craig became director. In Oct. 1976, Lucille Klinefelter was named director.

The Congregate Meals program is presently serving 100 meals per day for senior citizens sixty years and older.

The Senior Center is now located in the Coburn Building at 440 Locust Street. Wanda Thomas is head cook, Rosalie Hoyt is assistant cook, Grace Inman is activity director, and Thaddieus Jackson is handy man. Lois Mantzey is custodian and substitute cook. Shirley Moore is volunteer bookkeeper.

The senior center is also staffed by fifty RSVP volunteers who work at the reservation desk, the gift shop, the kitchen, and other special projects. 

-- Lucille Klinefelter



The Retired Senior Volunteer Program, more commonly known as RSVP, started in Livingston County in September 1973, when Ruth Seiberling was hired as director and Patricia North was hired as secretary- bookkeeper. The program is federally funded by ACTION, a federal agency, which also has Peace Corps and Vista Workers. The local program must match federal funds with a 30-70 match.

The purpose of the program is to recruit, train, place and recognize senior citizens who are over age sixty and retired but who can still make a contribution to the community through their volunteer efforts. Since the start of the program in 1973 more than six hundred volunteers have been enrolled and contributed volunteer hours.

Volunteers work in the County Library, and have worked in every school in the county; they work with Head Start, and the State Training Center for the Retarded. They work in Peter Pan School, in nursing homes, with Hope Haven Sheltered Workshop, at the State Training School for Girls, in Hedrick Medical Center, at the Grand River Historical Museum, on the genealogy program, on the Mobile Meals Program, at the Senior Center at the reservation desk, in the Congregate Meals Program, and in the gift shop. They figure property tax refunds, they do telephone reassurance for shut-ins, they assist the Livingston County Health Center and the Blood Bank. They work with the Community Therapeutic Resocialization Program of Ex-Mental Patients; they carry on a crime prevention program by marking valuables in homes. They have assisted in day nurseries, run the OATS BUS program, and have done many neighborly good deeds. In a typical year RSVP volunteers do close to 40,000 hours of volunteer work.

Not the least of the tasks that RSVP volunteers have undertaken is the publishing of this book. More than fifty volunteers have been involved in telephoning, collecting material, doing research, typing, proof-reading, and all of the other tasks involved in getting this much material together.

Under the leadership of Lillian Des Marias, RSVP volunteer who has served as editor and Sue Jones, who has served as assistant editor they have worked diligently to accomplish in a few short months the compilation of “150 Years of Livingston County History”. The staff of the RSVP office Beverly Schultz, and Lisa Crawford have spent many hours typing and retyping these pages in addition to carrying on the regular programs of the Retired Senior Volunteers.

RSVP volunteers work for the love of others; they enjoy making a contribution to the life of the community. They work for no pay but an occasional thank you and a smile or a warm hand-clasp. Twice a year there are RSVP Recognition parties when RSVP volunteers congregate to eat, and to be entertained, but their biggest pay comes from the love of a child, the smile of an elderly patient, or just the knowledge that they have lived life more fully making someone else happy. Space does not permit us to list all of the 230 RSVP volunteers who are now active in the program, but they know who they are and what their contribution is.

  --Ruth Seiberling, Director



This year OATS celebrates its ninth year of operation in the state of Missouri. It began in August, 1971, and has greatly expanded from its humble beginnings in Callaway County to its present area of service which includes eighty-eight of the one hundred fourteen Missouri counties. OATS began as a cooperative transportation service for the disadvantaged senior citizens, handicapped, low income and others, and was called CTS. In 1972, when it came to Livingston County, the name had been changed to OATS, (Older Adult Transportation System) and from the very beginning it was accepted and used throughout the county as a means of transportation.

In December 1973, the service became known as Older Adults Transportation Service, Inc. It is now known officially as OATS, Inc., a private not-for-profit corporation of the State of Missouri. The money from the $1 shares of stock sold in the beginning was absorbed by the new corporation, and went towards payment of the debts of the old corporation.

This county began with a blue Plymouth bus and the first driver was Margaret Vestal. She was replaced by Alvin Stretch in December, 1972. Other drivers have been Don Kenney, Hamilton, and James Childs, Chillicothe, and the present driver, Grace L. Smith of Chula, who is beginning her fifth year. Mrs. Smith drove a 1976 Dodge until OATS and Livingston County purchased a new Plymouth in February of this year.

OATS features a unique system of transportation. It offers personalized service designed with each riding member in mind. OATS will take the rider from the doorstep of his choice and back home again. Destinations range from the doctor, dentist, shopping centers, grocery stores, or a sight of interest in Missouri, and the nutrition site.

Mrs. Hazel McWhirter along with many others in this county worked many hours in making the OATS transportation a success. Mrs. McWhirter has served on the state board as well as on silver haired legislation. Mrs. Jennie Strong of this city is the present chairman of the committee which conducts the business affairs of the bus. Serving with her are Rachel Young, Bessie Pfaff, Anna Wells and Ruth Graham of this city; Novella Robinson and Pauline Stamper, Ludlow; Grace Stone, Utica; Mayme Thorne, Chula; Tennis McNally and Berta Cooper, Wheeling; Mina Denham, Dawn and Etha Barnhart, Avalon. This committee meets monthly and schedules the bus.

The contracting social service agencies that fund OATS and set requirements for riders are Division of Aging, Department of Mental Health and Area Agencies on Aging and Nutrition Sites who certify their clients and require OATS to observe guidelines for the individuals subsidized by that particular agency. All other persons that are eligible to ride OATS buses are asked to contribute full fare contribution to cover the cost of the trip.

“It has truly been a rewarding four years of work,” says Grace Smith. “A person may get on the bus to go, in tears or maybe ill from pain or loneliness, in the morning but by the time she returns them to their home all have enjoyed laughter and their troubles and pains seem to fade away.” -- Grace Smith

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