Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of articles focussed on the Brookfield Senior Center. This article will highlight the history and employees of the senior center.
The Brookfield Senior Center has been serving the community for 44 years with the goal of keeping seniors healthy.
The senior center has moved around Brookfield a few times and has had some name changes over the years.
The Brookfield Senior Center opened in 1974, when it was called the Senior Citizen Multi-Purpose Center and was located at 217 S. Main St. Three years later the multi-purpose center was changed to a nutrition site. From 1977 to 1979, the nutrition site meals were made in Marceline and served in Brookfield. A year later a new building was constructed at 1 Center Drive to house the nutrition site. The center remained there until they moved once again to 143 Clawson Road in 2003. The name changed as well, to the Brookfield Senior Center/Linn County Council of Aging.
Since 1974, the senior center has had four administrators. The current administrator is Heidi Wampler. Wampler lived in California for 40 years. While there she worked in a construction office and with a financial advisor. She came to Brookfield originally to take care of her father. The administrator job became available at the senior center at the same time.
For Wampler, she knew she could do more.
“When I got here I saw a need for the seniors in the community,” Wampler said. “I have always loved the elderly, I love all people.”
Wampler has been with the senior center since 2017. In that time she has reduced food costs, added more seniors to home delivery routes and introduced more area residents to the senior center. Going forward Wampler has plans to join meals on wheels, start grant writing to support the senior center and add more activities for the senior citizens.
Wampler says she enjoys giving back to the area.
“I love being able to help the community and letting them know there are resources available to them,” Wampler said.
In addition to Wampler, the senior center has four other employees: Tammy Beal, Teresa Beckman, Terry Stitcler and Joyce Craig. The all women staff has collectively worked at the senior center for more than 37 years.
Beckman, Beal and Stitchler all work in the kitchen. Monday through Friday they arrive at 6 a.m. to start preparing food. They prepare all of the meals for the dine-in, or congregate, patrons as well as the home delivered meals.
Beckman, Beal and Stitchler have other roles at the center as well. Stitchler is the lead cook preparing meals, ordering food and creating each month’s menu. Beckman is in charge of making all of the desserts and Beal takes care of the soups and salads. Stitchler has been working for the senior center for 20 years. Beckman and Beal both started in 2014.
According to Beckman, the job is rewarding.
“For many of the home delivery seniors and the people who come into the congregate, we’re the only company they have all day,” Beckman said.
For Beal, the need hits home.
“My mother-in-law gets home delivered meals,” Beal said. “I saw a need to help the seniors in our community.”
Craig is a part-time employee working the front desk. She manages the cash register and the sign-in sheet. Craig is also a senior, but continues to work to help out the senior center. Craig was hired in 2011 and plans to continue working.
There are many locals who volunteer their time at the senior center. Wampler’s husband, Ron Wampler, can be seen frequently at the senior center. He helps out bagging meals for home deliveries as well as unloading shipments of food. Another familiar face is Ronnie Hall. Hall is a Brookfield senior and will often enjoy a meal and will help clean afterward.
The last part in this series of articles will focus on where the senior center receives its funding and how readily that money is made available to the center.