A Listening Ear
By Brianna Stephens on April 11, 2023
Source: A Listening Ear
It’s common for people in Appalachia to live on the same land or in the same community as their parents, grandparents, even their great-grandparents lived. In a region steeped in tradition as old as the Appalachian Mountains, the people here are proud of who they are and where they come from.
Parsie Tackett is one of those people. He was born in a log cabin on his family’s farm in 1936 and has lived on the property ever since. The more than 100-acre farm is his passion, and over the years he has raised animals, plowed gardens, worked in the fields, and cared for family members.
Martha Collins, his niece, and her mother came to live with Tackett when she was 9 months old. Growing up on the farm with her family around her was the highlight of her childhood. Whether it was helping in the garden, playing in the nearby caves, or going to the stockyards with her uncle, growing up in Appalachia was like living in paradise.
Collins has always been close to her uncle and appreciates the caseworkers at Christian Appalachian Project (CAP) who have helped her get his needs met as he has grown older. CAP’s Elderly Services program offers seniors who live alone transportation services to run errands or to go to appointments, commodity box deliveries, and regular visits and social gatherings.
"Seniors need this socialization, they need transportation, they need someone to call, and they need that call to ask if there is anything that could be done for them that day,” said Teresa Gullett, Elderly Services manager in Johnson, Martin, and Floyd Counties. “This program is so rewarding. The participants become your family."
Elderly Services caseworker Kasey Mills has grown close to Tackett during her regular visits with him through the program. The two most often have lunch together on his front porch when the weather is nice.
“We have always had good times during our visits. Every time I come by, he has new stories,” Mills said. “We sit on his porch and have good conversations. He tells me about growing up here, his farm, what he did for work, his family. Sometimes we would walk to the barn, and he would show me his animals. He talks and I listen.”
Of the services CAP offers him, Tackett enjoys the socialization he has with the CAP employees and other seniors during social events. Even when the pandemic brought challenges to in-person visits, the Elderly Services program created opportunities to check-in on their participants through weekly phone calls and socially distanced porch visits. Through the pandemic and even now, Collins is grateful for the program’s help in taking care of her uncle.
“It is a special time for Parsie when Kasey visits him,” Collins said. “I really appreciate everything CAP has done for him. I know someone else is checking on him and can help meet any needs that I may be missing.”