Concerned Citizens celebrates 40 years
A community fixture for 40 years now, Concerned Citizens of Jack County continues to serve local residents with support, a good meal and camaraderie.
Director Russonna Jones-Briscoe, a Jacksboro native herself was getting ready for the organization’s annual fundraiser to be held Saturday evening, which is sold out for another year with more than 115 people expected. Jones-Briscoe says the community comes together for the organization, which is the reason it is still around now.
“We have folks from other areas come here and say they wish their senior center did what we do and I say it’s because our community has always supported us, which you can see here,” Jones-Briscoe explained as she showed off many of the live and silent auction items to be sold at the event. “We could do nothing without our community.”
Auction items will be available for viewing Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the center. Community members can bid on items by talking to a board member and receive texts to know how their bid is doing.
The community supports the facility through its financial donations, which account for 75 percent of the budget. Saturday’s fundraiser, which raised $85,000 in 2016, accounts for about one-third of the annual budget alone, according to Jones-Briscoe. Governmental entities make up the other 25 percent.
Jones-Briscoe, who has been here since the beginning says it is heartwarming to see generations of the same family come through the center doors at 400 E. Pine St.
“The woman that delivered me, Dorothy Martin, once told me that if I got out of line that she had spanked me once and she would be willing to do it again,” Jones-Briscoe said with a chuckle. “That just shows that we’re a community here.”
Part of that community includes the three children that were partially raised in her office. She feels because of that, her own children have become involved in their communities as well.
The center started years ago with Jones-Briscoe working out of an office on Main Street. She wanted to expand so she began a Meals on Wheels program, buying meals from the hospital in the beginning. Wanting to expand the program even further, she contacted Lions Club officials to see if she could use their kitchen to prepare their own meals. Lions Club members agreed ... with one stipulation.
“We had to cook for their members on their (meeting dates),” Jones-Briscoe said. “We cooked for all the Lions members and about a dozen Meals on Wheels folks. I learned to cook real quick there.”
The program now has about 125 people taking part with another 25-75 people a day coming into the center for a meal and some fellowship. Without volunteers to deliver the meals, the program wouldn’t exist.”
“That meals on wheels volunteer may be the only person they see all day, so they’re important,” Jones-Briscoe said. “We have tons of folks volunteer including church groups, community members. We are always in need of volunteers, even to be a part of our reserve list.”
The center has had to adjust to a different group of senior citizens as time goes on.
“Seniors today aren’t as frail as they used to be. They’re very active and going on vacation, taking long trips and such,” Jones-Briscoe said. “We know what our members are doing and know that some of our menu items, like chicken fried steak, are going to bring more people in and others just aren’t.”
Working center members have been known to pick up meals at the center and bring them to the office. Active seniors at the center have a keno group, watch current movies and have a bridge group that meets twice a week on Mondays and Tuesdays.
For Paula James, the bridge is a secondary reason for coming.
“I don’t have to clean house or cook here,” James said to a chuckle from her fellow bridge players.
Neva Scarborough explained the group got started about five years ago, playing in each other’s homes before moving to the center.
“You better know how to play (before coming),” Scarborough said. “We don’t teach here.”
Long-time board member Cynthia Burkett said she stays on the board because of Jones-Briscoe.
“If you give her $1, she will make it stretch like it’s $2,” Burkett said. “She is a good manager and we know how our money is being spent.”