Shepherd's Center of Beckley

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A Success Story

Click to enlarge
Jim and Callie Scott

In the Beginning
     In October, 1978 Jim and Callie Scott were attending a conference on aging, "Abundant Living in Later Years," at Montreat, NC.  It was there that they met Dr. Elbert C. Cole, pastor of the Central United Methodist Church in Kansas City, MO, who explained about an exciting new concept - The Shepherd's Center.  And so the seed was planted!  The Scotts returned to West Virginia full of enthusiasm and convinced it would be a good thing for Beckley.

The "Kansas City Five" (Click to enlarge)
Callie Scott, Gladys Terry, Curry Pyles, Bob Keesee, Fritz Shilling

 The Kansas City Five
     In May of the following year an ecumenical group of five interested volunteers from local Beckley churches left for Kansas City to attend a one week observation and training seminar at the Kansas City Shepherd's Center.  First opened in 1972, the Kansas City Center was considered a model plan of creativity and study for senior citizens, helping them to remain active and independent.  The Center was based on a volunteer system that employed the talents of retired volunteers with their years of experience and acquired knowledge to serve other retired people.
     Those attending the seminar were Bob Keesee and Rev.Fritz Shilling, Beckley Presbyterian Church; Gladys Terry and Callie Scott, First Christian Church; and Currie Pyles, United Methodist Temple. This group, affectionately dubbed "The Kansas City Five,"  returned from the seminar in hopes of expanding their group into a steering committee to form a similar program in Beckley.

Click to enlarge
The Steering Committee

Getting It All Together
     In June a 30 minute documentary film about the Kansas City Shepherd's Center called "Volunteer to Live," produced by CBS-TV, was obtained and shown to area churches, civic organizations, and anyone else who wanted to see it. 
      By August 30, 1979 a twenty-five member Steering Committee representing eleven area churches had been formed, and plans for a Beckley Center were well under way. 
     Finally a date was set for the first Shepherd's Center meeting, and in the  preceding weeks a promotional flier with the first schedule of classes and activities was sent out to all the local churches.
     Then on January 20, 1980, two days before the official "grand opening," The Raleigh Register newspaper ran an outstanding article about the new Beckley Shepherd's Center.  Due to that timely publicity there was a great turn out the first day.
 The Beckley Shepherd's Center is Born!
Tuesday, January 22, 1980.
(From an editorial in the Raleigh Register)
     "116 enthusiastic participants from 11 sponsoring churches in the community crowded into the Center, located in the Beckley Presbyterian Church, to take advantage of the Blood Pressure Clinic and to enjoy a variety of once-a-week Adventures in Learning classes and activities followed by lunch, music, bridge lessons, and games. In addition to those who came and enrolled, others have called to express interest in home services and to volunteer help and skills."
(From the St.Stephen's Episcopal Church Newsletter)
     "Sam Sarver's report on the first meeting was full of joy.  He said it was far and above the wildest expectations of the 25 members of the Steering Committee.  There were more than 100 people who attended, and 95 of the group stayed for lunch!  There was a good representation of all the churches participating in the Center - a group of congenial people who shared good fellowship and companionship. 
      Facilities were available for wheelchair persons, and everyone found the day to be a very, very successful and delightful experience. Registration for the classes was enthusiastic, and many more are expected to participate as time goes on.  Everyone who possibly can is encouraged to join this group of older people who are seeking worthwhile growing experiences to enrich their lives."
(From the Presbyterian Church Pipeline)
     "Well sir, you should have been here Tuesday!  Let me tell you, The Shepherd's Center opened with a BANG!!  One hundred sixteen older adults registered as participants in the program - an overwhelming response.  Lots and lots of credit goes to the Steering Committee for the groundwork done in planning and publicizing the Center.  Applause, applause!"
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Shepherd's Centers of America

 Shepherd's Centers of America is a non-denominational organization dedicated to enhancing life for older adults.