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Johnson County nonprofit makes sure older neighbors stay safe in extreme heat

Johnson County Senior Services isn't just providing meals to older members of the community, they're making sure they're OK in this extreme heat.

JOHNSON COUNTY, Ind. — When it's this hot for this long, we always hear about the importance of checking on our neighbors, especially older neighbors who are at higher risk and may need extra help.

That's the exact mission of Johnson County Senior Services.

Daily deliveries to older neighbors are part of Jerry Pressnell's job. He's a driver for Johnson County Senior Services and he loves it.

"I'm blessed to be doing this. I am," Pressnell said.

But in extreme weather, his role takes on added importance.

"I always try to make sure they're comfortable, you know, as far as the air conditioning," Pressnell said, "and try to remind them on a hot day like this to, to make sure to hydrate."

Kimberly Smith, the nonprofits executive director, the people they serve already have a hard enough time with the heat.

"It compromises their health anyway," Smith said. "They are already choosing between food and medicine. They're already not eating for days."

Checking on neighbors is a life-preserving mission for this team.

The nonprofit cares for 8,700 people per month, making a dozen food deliveries a day and making sure seniors get to the doctor and other appointments.

But right now, temperatures aren't the only trouble.

Credit: WTHR
Several shelves at the Johnson County Senior Services pantry are empty, hurting the nonprofit's ability to

"We're out of a lot of the very basic items that they need. Our soup section, this is it," Smith said, pointing to an empty shelf in their food pantry. "And this is where the eggs and those kinds of things would go. So it is challenging to put together food orders for them. We have absolutely no produce at all, no dairy for them."

Nonprofits and the seniors they help are really experiencing the trifecta of high heat, high grocery prices and high gas prices.

Several of the vehicles Johnson County Senior Services uses to transport seniors only get 6 mpg, for example. All of it is challenging the mission to serve. Still, they press on.

Pressnell continues to load up, drive over and reach out to make sure seniors are safe.

On this day, he brought Karen in Greenwood a care package and water, helping her survive the heat and taking her to an appointment.

"They're awesome about getting stuff done," she said. "The drivers are great."

Then it's onto the next neighbor to help on his list.

Credit: WTHR
Jerry Pressnell is a driver for Johnson County Senior Services.

It's a mission the group says we should all emulate, especially in extreme weather.

"It is so important if you are a neighbor — check on them. If you're part of a congregation, check on those older folks," Smith said. "Just to see if there's anything at all that we can do to enhance the quality of their life during not only these difficult times, but always."

If you'd like to help or donate food or time to Johnson County Senior Services, visit the nonprofit's website

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