LIVINGSTON -- The Livingston Council on Aging celebrated the opening of its new meal site with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, March 13.
Nearly 60 people attended the ceremony, including COA Execute Director Kay Granger, board member Sarah Easterly and Town of Livingston Mayor David McCreary, who performed the actual cutting.
“This could not have been possible without y’all,” Easterly told the COA members. “Y’all have tolerated so much for so long to wait until we could get into a facility that was big enough for y’all. Hopefully we will outgrow this one.”
“This is a second home to a lot of us,” she later added. “We come here not only for the food, but for each other.”
The new meal site, located at 20170 Ohio Street in Livingston, officially opened last December and replaced the previous site located inside Sacred Heart Mission Church, which allowed the COA to use its facilities — at no cost — for more than a decade, starting in 2006. Granger said the Livingston meal site initially attracted about 20 people per day but grew to 50-60 daily following the Great Flood of 2016.
The new meal site has averaged identical figures since opening Dec. 1, but COA members now have much more room to roam in the new 2,500-square-foot facility. Bridget Maher, manager for the Livingston meal site, said she has seen a noticeable difference.
“There were on top of each other [in the previous meal site],” Maher said. “Now they have a lot more space to operate.”
After the ribbon cutting, Easterly awarded plaques to two individuals for their efforts in the remodel project: COA member Sam Noto, a retired contractor who oversaw construction, and Stevie Spencer of the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office, who brought workers and assisted himself in the project.
The building, located across the street from the old courthouse, was purchased for $150,000 last September and immediately underwent extensive renovations.
The floors were replaced, most of the walls were torn down to create more space, six columns were added for roof support, new doors and trim were installed, and a new awning was put in front. Two additionally bathrooms were built in, bringing the total to four at the new facility, and LED lights were put in all the ceilings.
A stove, dishwasher, an air conditioner unit and other equipment were also donated to the new center, which now features an eating area, a kitchen, an administrative office, and a craft/exercise room — something there simply wasn’t enough space for at the previous site.
“We’re actually able to do a lot more activities now,” Maher said. “It’s been a big difference.”
The Livingston Council on Aging is comprised of four meal sites scattered across the parish. Breakfast and lunch are provided Monday-Friday at the four centers, and food is also delivered to the homebound. The four centers serve roughly 3,000 seniors a month.