Senior meals are back | SierraSun.com

Senior meals are back

Andrew Cristancho
Sierra Sun
Seth Lightcap/Sierra SunSierra Senior Services Executive Director Sarah Hall Deardorff, center, chats with Truckee Donner Senior Apartments residents Jean Delight and Blanche Willams over a hot lunch at the senior center dining hall Tuesday. The senior center's cafeteria reopened Tuesday for the first time in 14 months.
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More than a year after a cold snap burst the pipes at the kitchen and dining commons of a senior gathering place in Truckee, hot meals are again being served under a new director.

Officials at Sierra Senior Services appointed Sarah Deardorff as the new executive director on March 3. Deardorff worked for various nonprofits in the Tahoe-Truckee area while becoming involved with local senior services. In her first assignment she was the Home Delivered Meals Coordinator.

Deardorff replaces Melanie Kauffman, who held the executive director position from 2001 through 2007.

Although the senior center, also damaged in the flooding caused by the broken pipes, opened in late December, the attached kitchen remained closed until Monday. The kitchen’s plumbing and electrical systems were damaged, said Truckee Donner Senior Apartments manager Duane Jakob. The center and kitchen are located in the apartment building.

Monday was the first day the organization served meals in the common area, but Tuesday marked the first hot meals cooked out of the repaired kitchen, Deardorff said.

The senior aid organization was forced to charter a bus for the seniors from the apartments where they live, to the Sierra Mountain Community Education Center on Donner Pass Road for the meal service for the 14 months of repairs.

“Oh my goodness, they’ll get out of their rooms first thing ” and be able to associate with each other,” said Rita Holtebeck, a seven-year Sierra Senior Services volunteer.

She said many of the residents at the senior apartments are homebound and could not make it to the education building across town for the meals.

“It is exciting to have that room full again,” Jakob said.

No total cost could be released at press time, but some items were donated, like the wood-burning stove in the center of the room, Jakob said.

Many local businesses donated time, services and materials to the renovation including the Contractors Association of Truckee Tahoe, Mountain Home Center in Truckee, Ruppert Inc., Teichert Aggregates, Brimer Construction, Sierra Stone Supply and Lawton Construction Ltd.

Auburn-based Lawton Construction Ltd. was also the contracted firm that carpeted, painted and repaired the dining area, bathrooms and offices that were damaged in the Jan. 13-15, 2007 floods.

Deardorff, meanwhile, holds a bachelor of science degree from the University of Nevada, Reno in human and community services with a major in gerontology ” aging studies.

She will oversee the operation of the local senior nutrition programs including Meals on Wheels, which covers eastern Nevada and Placer counties and provides 20,000 “nutritious, hot meals annually to needy and disabled people,” she said.

Sierra Senior services provides hot lunches to seniors Monday through Friday at the common area, Deardorff said. Also through donations from Safeway, Joe Coffee and Starbucks the seniors have baked goods and hot coffee provided five mornings per week, she said.

Officials at Sierra Senior Services are looking for volunteers to drive, serve food, give presentations or initiate crafting activities. Call Sarah Deardorff at 550-7600 for more information.

Thursday: The Afiara String Quartet plays at the community center at the Truckee Donner Senior Apartments beginning at 10 a.m.

March 19: Mayor of Truckee Barbara Green will participate in an event called “Mayor for Meals.” According to Deardorff, mayors across the country are encouraged to meet area seniors. In Truckee, Green will receive a tour of the Meals on Wheels program; from the food preparation to the door-step delivery.

April 6th marks the return of the pancake breakfast fundraiser to the senior center. The first Sunday of every month Sierra Senior Services holds this fundraiser to help fund the Meals on Wheels Program.

“55 alive” will be held at the center soon to teach seniors about defensive driving, which can reduce insurance rates. Call 587-2408 for info.