Longtime Volunteer Named Senior Citizen of the Year


On Tuesday more than 100 area senior citizens, friends, family, and senior resource agencies gathered at the Friendly Senior Center to recognize and honor one very special citizen, Shirley Meeker as Senior Citizen of the Year.

“Meeker’s thousands of hours of volunteer work throughout Logan County is only one of the qualities that make her so deserving of this recognition,” said Mary Jo Altstaetter, who nominated Meeker for the award.

Here is the nomination from Alstaetter:

“The way that you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to your community around you and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.” Mitch Albom, author of The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Tuesdays with Morrie, and The Timekeeper.

Shirley Meeker is one who has contributed much to the Logan County community through her skills in providing physical and emotional nourishment in a variety of situations. Caring for the nutritional needs of others started early as Meeker was the eldest among her eleven siblings. She recalls that her mother and other family members were excellent cooks. She reminisces about the family making personal pizzas by topping two pieces of bread with tomato soup, bits of meat, cheese, and spices. During her career years, she worked at Tinsley’s IGA and ten years with the Bellefontaine City Schools food service department. It was difficult for her to pinpoint her years of service to many of the organizations. Meeker recalls serving as a volunteer cook for the former Loving Hands Day Care Center which was active in the 1990’s. She also enjoyed doing crafts and interacting with the attendees.

Her volunteer hours increased as opportunities for volunteer food service arose. Kim Collum, Executive Director of Lutheran Community Services, was able to pinpoint that Meeker gave leadership to a church group that volunteered to serve one meal bi-monthly for Our Daily Bread when the group moved to a new facility in 1993. Collum noted that Meeker had previously helped serve evening meals at Bellefontaine Presbyterian Church. Meeker’s responsibilities include planning the menu, purchasing food, cooking the meal with assistance, recruiting, and overseeing volunteers in serving the meal and cleanup. In 2024, Lutheran Community Services moved to a larger facility and Meeker continues in her role. Collum noted that only a few groups take care of the entire meal these days. Yet, Meeker can be counted on to do just that. Collum recalled at one point Meeker worked beside her brother-in-law, the late Ed Meeker, to offer holiday pies to the community. Profits from this endeavor were donated to a food pantry.

At about the same time, Meeker began to lead a group of volunteers in kitchen duties at a regular American Red Cross Bloodmobile. This included preparing a meal for the staff members involved with collecting the blood donations. The kitchen crew also prepared a delicious vegetable soup for the many donors. Other volunteers brought homemade cookies for the two-day event. In addition, Meeker donated 16+ gallons of blood. This is the equivalent of 128 donations which contributed to improving the health of many individuals. Given that one can donate blood six times a year, she donated blood over a period of twenty-one years. Meeker acknowledges that she quit counting her donations after she reached the 16-gallon mark.

Along the way, Meeker became active in the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry at St. Patrick Church. She helps wherever she is needed, including a three hour shift each week when members of the community access the services from the free choice pantry. She also stocks shelves, shops for the pantry, and is involved with Project Merry Christmas.

In 2024, Meeker marks her 40th year as a member of Nu Beta Sorority, a service/friendship organization. She is involved with the annual Breakfast with Santa. She takes charge of the group that provides monthly bingo at Logan Acres Care Center (LACC) which involves providing gifts for the residents, leading the Bingo activities, and socializing with the residents. Meeker can be seen at LACC on a regular basis visiting with the residents.

Meeker is well known for her culinary skills. For many years, she prepared a Thanksgiving meal for her husband to share with his coworkers at Copeland in Sidney. She chuckles about making two kinds of dressing as her husband’s boss always requested oyster dressing while most employees preferred a traditional dressing. She is also known for the Mercy meals her team serves following funerals at St. Patrick Church. Those who know Meeker are aware of her preparing and delivering meals to individuals/families when she sees a need.

Meeker does much more than add her name to a group’s membership roster. She rolls up her sleeves and gets the work done. On March 20, 2024, I was not at all surprised to see her sorting extensive clothing donations received following the previous week’s devastation resulting from a tornado in Lakeview, Ohio. This is what she had been doing for several days. The group felt overwhelmed by the outpouring of donations that filled the halls and classrooms of the building. It was a matter of opening the endless bags and going through each bag one item at a time. Meeker has approached many projects one item at a time. Referring to Albom’s earlier quote, Meeker has devoted and continues to devote herself to our community. In doing so, she has brought purpose and meaning to her own life and the lives of many individuals. When I mentioned to several community members that I was planning to nominate Meeker for this recognition, Sue Vicario who heard of Meeker’s extensive volunteer roles exclaimed, “Wow! She is truly an unsung hero of our community!” Meeker goes about her involvement in such a quiet, humble way that many do not realize the extent of her activities.

Meeker is selfless in serving the Logan Couty community. When asked why she is so passionate about serving people, she quickly responds, “That’s what God wants me to do!” She encourages others to get involved and to make a difference in our community. It is with great admiration and respect that I nominate Shirley Meeker for the 2024 Outstanding Senior Citizen of Logan County!”


Hosted by the Logan County Senior Service Coalition, led by Christie Barnes pictured here with Shirley Meeker, and award presenter by Kelsey Snowden.

Meeker shared the following about receiving the award:

The meal was catered by Where There’s Smoke BBQ from West Mansfield.

Several area resource agencies were on hand as part of a resource fair for senior citizens.