Edee Wolfenberger, a 75-year-old RV resident at the KOA campground in Rusk, Texas, is trying to make a dream come true. She has applied for a $250,000 Pepsi Refresh grant to construct an RV park for permanent senior citizen residents, The Cherokeean Herald reported.
“My dream is to build a real life village for seniors. There will be no ‘big-box warehouse’ for us,’” she said. She refers to assisted living facilities as “big box warehouses.” Already she has found an attorney who will help with the legal work and make application for a tax-exempt status.
“Our plans are to purchase enough property for RV residents to move in. Many of the lots will include a place to permanently park an RV in an attached facility with another room to the side. We will have a place for a community garden, an activity room and cabins for folks who do not have RVs. Also, persons owning mobile homes are invited to move those homes into the park.
“While working with Adult Protective Services, I saw firsthand how seniors were living and realized they were pretty much isolated from society and all too often from their families. The only thing available was the senior center which entertained them for a short time. If they didn’t have money, they were not able to take advantage of trips or other things offered. They seemed to be slowly dying in their homes. It is really sad and can be changed so easily. Now that I am living alone, I realize personally the problems involved. Also, I have found even married folks often have a mate who is minimized by illness. This leaves the healthier one alone with someone to care for or at least life defined by the ill mate.
“We have found that people do not do well living alone. They do much better living in small community groups and sharing with those around them,” Wolfenberger said.
She envisions RV residents living on the grounds and volunteering at various places in the community. They could participate in after-school tutoring, sponsor foster children, work in the community gardens and raise chickens, she suggested.
“An activity building is being planned and a dorm facility will be constructed on the second floor of that building. College students, who are studying the effect of growing old, will give them an opportunity to spend time with senior citizens. I would like to sponsor a homeless family and help them get back on their feet,” she said. Also, she plans to sponsor a congressional program for youth. This is similar to the Eagle Scout program and students earn brass, silver and gold medals, Wolfenberger said.
Wolfenberger is originally from Flagstaff, Ariz. She has been in Texas for two years and has grandchildren living in the Carrollton area.
“I needed a place to park my RV and ended up here. I was looking for a county to establish a village and Cherokee County seemed to be that place,” she said.
The Pepsi Refresh grant program gives away more than $1 million each month. Wolfenberger is asking that Rusk area citizens work together to win a Pepsi grant. “Someone is going to win, so why not us?” she asked. She invites everyone in the community to go to the website www.refresheverything. com/helpourseniors and cast a vote every day. The numbers count in determining who will win the $250,000.
“Your involvement will make a difference,” she said.