History

Above: The first staff of REAL Services

REAL Services was created in May of 1966 as a part of the planning division of United Way. The purpose was to develop a service network designed to meet the needs of older adults in St. Joseph County. Lester Fox was hired as the Director to develop the Agency. In 1967, REAL Services received the first federal grant in Indiana from the U.S. Administration on Aging (AOA) for Research and Development. This grant was extended in 1968 to further program development. The Information, Counseling and Referral (ICR) Program was initiated with these funds. Interviewers were hired to go door-to-door in designated areas with questionnaires targeted at the elderly. The ICR project was used to determine the immediate needs of the elderly and to refer them to health, welfare, employment, housing, legal aid, and other community services.  This project was successful in identifying the needs of older adults and the resources available to them. A directory of community services for older adults was prepared and distributed, and new programs were developed to meet the needs of older adults.

In 1968, REAL Services designed the first program in the entire United States to establish nutrition sites to provide meals and socialization for older adults.  This program served as a model for nutrition assistance used across the country. Since that time, REAL Services has established itself not only as a state-wide leader, but an example for the entire nation in serving the aging community through innovative ideas, service with integrity, competent management, ground-breaking practices and sound financial trust.

Since that time, REAL Services has established itself not only as a state-wide leader, but an example for the entire nation in serving the aging community through innovative ideas, service with integrity, competent management, ground-breaking practices and sound financial trust.

Without REAL Services, each year more than 5,000 older adults would have to move to a nursing home to receive the care they need.  There would be 2,000 people in our community who would not have access to food each day.  The staff and volunteers at REAL Services work tirelessly to help people of all ages, races, nationalities, and income levels in northern Indiana to find independence and satisfaction in their lives.

In 2016, we celebrated 50 years of service to the residents of northern Indiana.  Today, REAL Services has more than 20 distinct programs that support individuals and families in living independent and meaningful lives.  Our programs address the needs of nutrition, self-sufficiency, education, and protection for 30,000 people in northern Indiana each year.

“Looking Back” at REAL Services’ history.

View the entire timeline.

View our 50th Birthday Infographic.