Calhoun County Committee on Aging director Mike Ritchie
has always wanted to fly planes.
“It’s the one thing I wanted to do in my life that never
happened,” said Ritchie. “I always loved airplanes and still do.”
He smiled as he explained how he still sits by the
window on each flight. “It’s beautiful and exciting every time,” said
Ritchie, “I love to fly. I just never pursued it.”
Sometimes, dreams become a reality in the tasks we
choose each day. Though Ritchie is not a veteran aviator, he is the
pilot of one of the most important agencies in the community.
From his beginning years as director, CCCOA has evolved
and progressed. In 2000, the agency went from serving an average of 11
individuals a day to serving 50-60 a day. Now, an average of 100 can be
boasted about each Friday.
A center is also open in Minnora, with designated
transportation to meet the needs of individuals from that area.
Besides an increase in participants, CCCOA has had some
cosmetic updates. A new covered entryway has been added, as well as a
patio. Both are welcoming places for the center and add more beauty to
the facility and Grantsville.
“We have one of the most beautiful facilities in
Grantsville,” said Ritchie, “and we try to share it with the community
in several ways.”
The CCCOA dining area, which accommodates 100 people, is
available to be rented by citizens seeking an area to entertain.
“People appreciate the beautiful and easily accessible
facilities for parties, class reunions, showers, etc.,” said Ritchie.
In addition to the cosmetic changes, the facility has
sustained and increased its programs over the years.
The mission and number one goal of CCCOA is to keep
people living independently in their homes as long as possible. This is
accomplished in countless ways.
Some of the programs the agency offers include hot and
cold meal deliveries, transportation, in-home care, Light House,
nutrition services, Ensure (carton of Ensure for a donation of $18), and
Family Alzheimer's In-home Respite (FAIR).
Red Hatters display.
Each program encompasses much more than the basics. For example, the
transportation service, which offers two buses with lifts and three
high-top vans, has a door-to-door service.
Not only are seniors picked up at their doors and taken
to the grocery store, pharmacy, bank, etc., but help is also offered to
carry groceries and attend to the seniors’ entrance and exit of their
The in-home care programs offer assistance for normal
acts of daily living. Whether it be laundry, personal care, meal
preparation, or house cleaning, the in-home care providers are dedicated
to their jobs.
“Thank God for my wonderful, dedicated staff, who care
about the people they serve,” said Ritchie, “I have providers that go
above and beyond the call of duty. The feedback I get for my personal
care providers is 99% good.”
CCCOA serves individuals over the age of 60 and people
with disabilities. The agency is overflowing with various social
activities to meet the needs and interests of all.
“The social activities are just as important as the
other programs,” said Ritchie.
The center offers an extensive exercise room, a quilting
room, red hatters’ room, pool table, basketball and dart games, bingo,
puzzles, library, cards, Nintendo Wii, and a computer lab with five
CCCOA works hard to develop relationships with other
county agencies and businesses. By partnering with the Extension agency,
it is able to offer computer classes by Curt Garretson.
Its partnership with Minnie Hamilton Health System
allows semi-annual health fairs to be offered in May and November.
Other partners that collaborate are the Lions Club,
Calhoun Banks, which donated several computers, and Stump Funeral Home,
which sub-scribes to magazines for the center.
“Our relationship with these individual organizations
works well to create a network to better serve our community,” said
Another feature that it offers is organized low-cost
trips. Over the years, CCCOA has taken groups to New York City,
Washington, D.C., Nova Scotia, Myrtle Beach, Amish Country, Lancaster’s
Sights and Sounds Theater, and an adventure “out west.”
Ritchie reminisced about some of these travels: “It is
so gratifying to offer trips. I love to travel and so do many other
people. It is great to share that love with a bus load of Calhouners.
It’s like getting two paychecks.”
“I love my job. It is so much fun to work in a place
like this,” said Ritchie. “We have some of the greatest employees in the
region. Brenda McBride is recognized in Region One as one of the best
financial offi-cers. We are blessed. Everybody helps to do whatever is
needed whenever something is needed. I have cleaned commodes, delivered
meals, and driven a bus.”
CCCOA is an important agency in the county. It is
productive and successful in serving the community, seniors, and
disabled. The reason for its success is because of a caring staff and a
director like Mike Ritchie.
The Calhoun native from Big Springs may not fly a bomber
or expensive jet, but he continues to pilot CCCOA into the future with
great ease. Best wishes as you lead CCCOA into the wild blue yonder.