Beyond the Classroom

Beyond the Classroom

The Adventures of a PLUW Student-Intern Edition #3

by Julie Butler

Editor’s Note: In this series of articles, Julie visits community organizations with which the Prairieland United Way is affiliated to learn about the history of that organization, how it is run and how the organization helps the community. This is the third in a series.

When fall fades into winter and the leaves on the trees have all but disappeared, there comes a promise of the holidays and spending time with family.

For some, however, this shift in the seasons also brings the dread of not knowing when the next hot meal is going to be available to them. Fortunately, Jacksonville has resources available to those who find this struggle to be true.

I had the chance to meet with Polly Pulley at Spirit of Faith Faith Center (SFFC) and Nancy Thorsen at Prairie Council on Aging (PCOA) to learn more about the services that each organization offers as well as the demographic that is most affected by their type of assistance.

Pulley is the head of the soup kitchen at SFFC, where she aids in cooking, with her head chef, Kim. Pulley also runs the overall operation of the church as a pastor. All of the volunteers that Pulley coordinates are over 80 years old, with the exception of one.

SFFC provides those in need with not only a warm meal, but also family, friends and an environment that changes people’s lives.

One experience that is memorable for Pulley involved a young man that frequented the soup kitchen. He needed more than just food, and Pulley was able to get clothes and shoes donated to the young man. This interaction is important to Pulley because it completely changed the behavior of the young man. It showed that acts of kindness can change a person’s life.

In the future, Pulley hopes to make SFFC more family-oriented and involve more men in the program. Polly has a dream that Jacksonville will be “fixed-up,” and it starts one house at a time.

Nancy Thorsen, on the other hand, focuses on feeding seniors in the community. There are several programs that PCOA runs, including Meals on Wheels, which delivers nutritious meals straight to seniors’ doors.

Thorsen has been with the agency for 14 years and enjoys getting to offer care to those that need it the most. In her time with PCOA, Thorsen has been able to expand the organization immensely, but she says she could never do it without those around her.

PCOA has received donations in the form of buildings, cars and volunteer work. According to Thorsen, everything that happens at PCOA is truly a team effort.

Thorsen is proud to have this organization in Jacksonville, as the community support never ceases to surprise her. Thorsen says “rural America takes care of its own,”

In the coming years, Thorsen hopes to create an appropriate succession plan, ensuring there are strategies in place that will carry the PCOA for many years to come. She also aims to meet the incredible demands that the PCOA will experience as baby boomers move into their senior years.

Both of these agencies are contributing to help end the hunger issue in Jacksonville, and Pulley and Thorsen both contribute so much time to their organizations, making them the best they can possibly be.

If you or someone you know could benefit from the services offered by these organizations, Polly Pulley can be reached at (217)371-6363 and the Prairie Council On Aging can be reached at (217) 479-4619.

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