When the OAA Older Americans Act passed in 1965, State Units on Aging (SUAs) were formed to receive each state’s share of funding. Missouri’s first State Units on Aging was the Office of Special Services within the Division of Family Services.
In 1972, Missouri was divided into 21 planning and service areas (PSAs) called Regional Councils on Aging. Each council received a planning grant to identify local senior needs, and then to coordinate grass-roots services to meet those needs.
The University of Missouri secured a state contract to organize the Regional Council in southwest Missouri. They hired Winston Bledsoe to lead it, and Dorothy (Rambo) Knowles to be his secretary. On October 1, 1972, the Lakes Country Regional Council on Aging opened in a leased building at 1824 South Stewart in Springfield, Missouri.
The Lakes Country Regional Council on Aging served ten counties: Barry, Christian, Dade, Dallas, Greene, Lawrence, Polk, Stone, Taney, and Webster. We determined the two greatest needs for these counties were nutrition services and transportation.
To meet these needs, we immediately helped organize a volunteer County Council on Aging in each of our counties. These County Councils then applied to us for funds to begin services. Today, three of these County Councils are still active – Polk, Lawrence, and Barry counties.