Cass County Council on Aging awarded grant from Pokagon Fund

CASSOPOLIS — A local organization will be able to provide free meals to senior community members thanks to another organization’s generosity.

The Cass County Council on Aging recently received a grant from The Pokagon Fund to help feed Dowagiac’s senior citizens.

The funds from this grant will be used to provide free hot meals daily to residents ages 60 and over. The meals will be distributed at Front Street Crossing, 227 S. Front St., by a “first come, first serve” basis Monday through Friday. Seniors who are not registered are asked to fill out a short form in order to verify their name and age.

According to COA director of community development Kelli Casey, the grant will provide Dowagiac seniors with roughly six months’ worth of free meals.

“It is really beneficial for us,” she said. “We provide meals for both walk-in seniors and homebound seniors. We have funding for our Meals on Wheels but did not have much in terms of carryout. This will help us greatly. We’ll have a supply of free food for those who qualify. We’re thankful to the Pokagon Fund for its generosity.”

According to its website, the Pokagon Fund — facilitated by the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians — provides strategic grant support to initiatives that help reduce the burden of poverty, strengthen local schools and student achievement, enhance the success of residents and provide vital support to rural communities.

Grants are awarded to charitable organizations, governmental entities and service organizations serving residents in Three Oaks, Chikaming and New Buffalo Townships, Dowagiac, Hartford and South Bend, Indiana.

To date, the Pokagon Band has awarded more than $23 million to local organizations.

Casey said she applied for the grant during the summer, but the Pokagon Fund’s resources were limited due to the pandemic. It was not until recently that her grant application was approved.

The award was welcome news to the organization, which suspended the majority of its activities in light of the number of COVID-19 cases throughout the area. The COA hopes the new year will allow it to slowly open some of its activities.

“We would like to slowly open with one-on-one appointments,” Casey said. “Later, we can add bingo and social events. Our fitness center likely won’t be open for some time since it is a huge risk because our customers are in that vulnerable age range. We’re trying to be as safe as we can but supply services like Meals on Wheels, homecare and curbside pickup at both locations are still in operation.”

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