VIAM Manufacturing made a donation of $25,000 to the Manchester Coffee County Senior Center, the second of two installments totaling a pledged $50,000. The first installment was given to the senior center in August of last year. Among those present for the donation were representatives of VIAM, current and former county and city government officials, Manchester police department officials and Rep. Judd Matheny. Keith Hayes, plant manager of VIAM, turned the check over to Diane Jernigan, director of the center.
During his presentation, Hayes told senior center members about his trips to Japan, a country he said takes care of its elderly population. “One of the things I always respected about Japan is how good of care they take of their senior citizens,” Hayes said. “To watch what happens in the United States is almost the direct opposite,” Hayes said that when former county mayor David Pennington called him to tell him that the senior center needed funding, the president of VIAM at the time, of Japan, did not hesitate to pledge $50,000. “He said, these are our grandparents and great-grandparents of our employees in this community, so we have to do it,” Hayes said.
Jernigan said she and everyone at the senior center were very grateful for the donations. Jernigan said the first installment has been used wherever necessary at the center, which has since restored and rewired its kitchen, replaced appliances and added a storage unit for fundraising sales. “We have tried to think and do the best that we could do with the best that you could do with the money you have given us, and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” Jernigan said. She added that she gives the credit for the senior center’s successes to everyone who is a part of it. “Diane is only as strong as my membership. I have a wonderful board and a wonderful, wonderful membership to be commended,” Jernigan said. “I thank you all.” “I wanted to give you encouragement that your state legislature and hopefully soon-to-be federal legislature is beginning to pay more and more attention to the acute needs of our senior citizens. There are so many senior citizens today, and we’re not providing adequate resources for them. We’re talking about nutrition, transportation, housing and medicine,” said Matheny, who is running for a congressional seat next year. “I’ll be introducing bills to increase funding for senior centers and transportation opportunities and housing opportunities, both on the state level and at the federal level.”