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 2016, we celebrated 50 years of service to the residents of northern Indiana. As we plan for the next 50 years, we appreciate the South Bend Tribune posting this great article “Looking Back” at REAL Services’ history.