West Central Reporter

West Central Reporter

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Calhoun County Senior Center director helps elderly access much-needed resources


By Kasey Schefflin-Emrich | Sep 24, 2019

Calhoun County Senior Citizens Center | https://calhouncoseniorcenter.weebly.com/

Calhoun County Senior Citizens Center Director Mary Crawford assists seniors, their family members and the community at large as they navigate the health insurance landscape.

“My work is primarily with people who have Medicare, but I also help people with a number of different benefits and services programs,” Crawford told West Central Reporter. “The work is incredibly challenging because the benefits and services landscape can be pretty complex. I am glad when a customer tells me that I have helped them answer their questions or to find resources that can help them address a need.”

Crawford, who is also the Senior Center’s information and assistance services provider, began working for the organization in 2015. She holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and geology, and a master’s degree in anthropology. Crawford originally trained to be an archaeologist and previously served as director of education at the Center for American Archeology in Kampsville.

Calhoun County Senior Citizens Center Director Mary Crawford

“I was ready for new challenges, and, believe it or not, my training as a scientific researcher and my experience as an excavator have really been beneficial when it comes to locating and using resources in this field of service,” Crawford said.

In working with seniors, Crawford hopes they will have better access to services in our ever-evolving technological world.

“In my opinion, technology is a terrific asset, but one that can actually create barriers to people without any experience with computers, automated telephone systems, etc.,” she said. “The challenges of aging, physical changes such as hearing and vision loss, play a significant role in how older people are able to interact with the world around them. When you combine the challenges of the high-tech world with aging senses, it can cause real problems. It's important to remember that when working with elders. Keeping easier, more accessible options available is critical, both in technological applications and interpersonal interactions.”

Crawford was born and raised in Roseville, Minnesota, and has been a resident of Calhoun County for 18 years. As part of her work at the senior center, she helps with monthly food programs including the St. Louis Area Foodbank and Catholic Charities of Madison County. 

She also volunteers on the governing board or advisory councils with the Calhoun County Health Department, Illinois Valley Economic Development Corporation, and the University of Illinois Extension. Additionally, she is a U of Illinois Extension Master Naturalist Program volunteer.

“As I've gotten older, I've created time to be more active in the local community,” Crawford said. “I like to think that I've been able to help people in some small way over the years.”

When she’s not working or volunteering, Crawford enjoys camping, gardening, canoeing and hiking.

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