(COVINGTON, La) — St. Paul’s School is built around the Lasallian five core principles. Two of these principles, “concern for the poor and social justice” and “respect for all persons,” convey what community service and volunteer work is all about.
There are so many groups and organizations in the community that dedicate time, money, and effort to helping the needy. One such organization is the Council of Aging in St. Tammany (COAST), a group focused on serving the elderly by feeding and engaging them. Staff and volunteers perform tasks that many of the elderly have lost the ability to do — tasks that the young and able can take for granted.
COAST has seven centers: one is Bush, Covington, Lacombe, Mandeville, Folsom, Pearl River, and Slidell. One of the most used services that these centers provide for the elderly is the serving of meals specially selected by a committee at meetings, although they also take suggestions. Their menu for the month is listed here.
“We call them congregate meals,” COAST Nutrition Coordinator Lonnita Rodgers said, “where [members] go to a senior center. They are served Monday through Friday at midday.”
These meals meet the minimum daily nutritional intake, getting seniors all of the calories, sugars, and vitamins they need for a healthy diet. That said, COAST doesn’t exclusively invite St. Tammany residents to enjoy these meals at the center.
“We also have homebound clients, who we go see only once a week, but we give them five frozen meals to last the week,” Rodgers said. “They’re supplemental meals that are meant to add to what they already have.”
In order to keep this helpful service focused on the most needy citizens, COAST set some restrictions on who could qualify for it.
“In order to receive homebound meals, you have to be a resident of St. Tammany Parish, medically homebound, over the age of 60, and unable to drive,” Rodgers said. “Although, there are situations where we can make stipulations due to income as well.”
Despite these restrictions, COAST is still able to help hundreds of elderly citizens that have nowhere else to turn to for help.
“We serve at least 250 people in the centers alone Monday through Friday,” Rodgers said, “and we have people going out every week to serve homebound meals to about 390 clients.”
COAST also operates STAR Transit in partnership with St. Tammany Parish Government. STAR Transit is aimed to assist the residents of St. Tammany with rural and urban transportation. By offering residents over 60 years old free transportation to the grocery store, shopping, medical appointments, and other errands, COAST is able to help seniors remain independent and self-sufficient. However, since anyone in St. Tammany can take advantage of this service, reservations are required as this is a first-come, first-served program.
Much more information on STAR Transit, including how to make a reservation, can be found here.
These services, along with the many community service projects that COAST organizes, make COAST a prime example of concern for the poor and social justice and respect for all persons. Of course, all of the work could not be done without the generous service of COAST volunteer workers.
Charities and organizations like COAST help those in local and national communities that require help by donating time, talent, and treasure to benefit people in need.
Those interested in volunteering can call the COAST Community Service Department at (985) 892-0377 to schedule volunteer dates.