Hearty Meals and Friendships in Blue Island

volunteer serves judy davis cherry pie

CrossGenerations, a Salvation Army Corps Community Center located in Blue Island, Illinois, provides a full range of sports, worship and arts programs for the community, but the senior program is one of its crown jewels. The program includes exercises, classes and social opportunities for the seniors in the surrounding towns.

The most popular of the programs is the weekday lunch provided in the community room. For a suggested donation of $2, seniors can enjoy homemade meals including meatloaf or beef ribs. “The food is delicious. They have a new cook and it is wonderful,” said Austin Morgan, 66. During the spring, summer and fall months, meals are supplemented with fresh produce grown onsite at CrossGenerations’ state-of-the-art aeroponic tower garden. “They have fresh salads almost every day featuring the lettuce, kale, tomatoes, chives and more that are grown right here,” said Lt. Bersabe Vera, CrossGenerations Corps Officer. “Many of the seniors work on the garden every week and it is incredibly rewarding to see the product go from the garden to the plate.”

santiago robles enjoying meatloaf lunch

But it isn’t just the food that keeps the group coming back every day; clients are treated to a full experience. “There are linens on the table and real plates and bowls,” said Joan Davis, 76. “And they serve us. There’s respect there – we feel important.” Lt. Vera acknowledges the importance these little details carry. “They’re family, so they should feel like they’re at home.”

Between bites of food and sips of drink, stories of the day are shared. At a recent lunch, Jerry and Judy Buergel, 76 and 70, celebrated their 50th anniversary. A brief announcement was made and congratulations shared throughout the room. At their small table, the Buergels talked about how they met, their wedding and their lives together as they shared a photo album created by their children. “There’s a sense of community here,” said Judy. “We share our joys with each other. We notice when people aren’t here and we take care to check after them.”

CrossGenerations has a fully-equipped fitness center and offers fitness classes designed specifically for seniors. There are also a number of classes for seniors including safety and security taught in conjunction with the local police department.

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