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Shepherd Center of Kingsport works to help older adults live independently

Tanja Moody • Feb 15, 2013 at 2:48 AM

The Shepherd Center of Kingsport has one main goal: to enable older adults to live independently and safely at home for as long as appropriate. To achieve that one goal, they provide many services. And those services are all free, according to Katherine Scoggins, who has been the Shepherd Center executive director for nearly 20 years.

"The Shepherd Center was started in 1989 as a result of a door-to-door survey done by Church Circle churches, the Senior Center and the Junior League, asking older adults what they might need in order to stay independent as they aged. They said transportation, minor home repairs and socialization," Scoggins said. "Kingsport already had the Senior Center as a good place to do fun stuff, so we decided to back off from the socialization aspect. We wanted to concentrate on the other two areas."

Shortly afterwards, P&S Pharmacy in Kingsport eliminated its durable medical equipment service and turned their medical equipment over to Shepherd Center, a non-profit United Way organization. Now, the center loans equipment like wheelchairs, hospital beds, walkers, canes and bath benches to clients who need it.

Other services offered by the center include transportation to medical appointments and personal shopping trips. Volunteers run errands to pick up groceries or prescriptions. And the center also provides resources and counseling for caregivers of older adults.

Currently, about 125 volunteers help the center provide services to more than 2,200 older adults and their caregivers. Clients must live in the greater Kingsport area and be aged 55 years or older for all services and 60 or older for transportation.

"We’re successful in what we do because of our volunteers," Scoggins said. "Many of them also work with Contact Concern or Meals on Wheels, and when they deliver meals, they might notice that someone’s linoleum is peeling up, making it a hazard for tripping and falling. Or they might see that a light bulb is burned out, and you don’t want an older adult trying to change a light bulb. So they give us a call."

Serving the elderly is a calling for Scoggins, who as a child often cried after singing with her church choir in nursing homes. When she accepted the position as executive director of Shepherd Center in Kingsport, her mother was surprised.

"She said, ‘I can't believe someone who got so upset being around older people would actually take a job with them,’" Scoggins said. "My response was, ‘I am keeping them out of nursing homes and helping them stay at home.’ The day before I started the job, my mother said, ‘You'd better be really good to these people because they helped raise you.’ I hear those words in my head at least once a week. Many of my teachers, choir directors, preachers, Sunday School teachers and friends' parents have passed through the Shepherd Center doors."

The Shepherd Center of Kingsport is located at 132 West Sevier Avenue, Suite 3. Office hours are from 8 a.m. to noon, Monday through Thursday, and by appointment in the afternoons or on Friday.

Current needs include gift cards to Office Depot or Walmart, reams of white copy paper, and rolls or sheets of first-class or Forever stamps. Volunteers are also needed. To make a donation or for more information, call 423-392-4514 or email katherine.scoggins@yahoo.com.

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