SINCLAIRVILLE — It’s not every day that a United States Congressman stops by for lunch, but on Monday, more than 30 local seniors welcomed their local representative at the Sinclairville Fire Hall for a special meal.
U.S. Rep. Nick Langworthy visited with the Sinclairville 76ers for an up-close look at the organization’s impact at a Thanksgiving luncheon at the Sinclairville Fire Hall on Monday.
“We want to show dedication to our seniors,” Langworthy said. “… I heard about the 76ers – they have a great nutrition program – and I wanted to come out and say hello.”
The Sinclairville 76ers organization began in 1976 to create senior housing in the former Sinclairville High School. The Meals on Wheels program began five years later and has been serving the community ever since.
“It’s a really important, vital program we have for our seniors,” said Patti France, an organizer of the Sinclairville 76ers event on Monday.
Through the organization’s Meals on Wheels service, meals are offered by delivery on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday each week to clients who live in the Sinclairville area, as well as Cassadaga, Villenova, Cherry Creek, Stockton, and Gerry, among others. Clients also have the option of dining in person at the Sinclairville Fire Hall dining room.
“I’m very passionate about our luncheon site. It’s such an important part of our community,” France said.
According to France, approximately 35 people regularly attend the in-person dining throughout the week. The local summer recreation program also visits frequently to provide the seniors with an outlet for socialization.
“The best part is getting to meet the people and talk to them,” resident Peggy Guichard said of the 76ers organization.
Resident Irene Moll added, “It’s about being able to get together with people and talk, and the meals are fantastic. When you get to be 82 like I am, you don’t like cooking at home and you don’t like to be alone. This is super, really super.”
Monday’s gathering was themed for Thanksgiving, with turkey and plenty of sides offered to the guests. Langworthy joined a group of local seniors with a fork in hand to enjoy a slice of pie and a cup of coffee to top off his visit. Langworthy addressed the room before he took a seat to enjoy his dessert.
“I’m honored to represent this community and all of Chautauqua County in Washington, D.C., as your member of Congress,” Langworthy said to the audience.
A Chautauqua County native and graduate of Pine Valley High School, Langworthy represents the 23rd Congressional District of New York, including Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, Schuyler, and Steuben Counties and parts of Erie County. He was excited to return home on Monday, with stops throughout the county, beginning at the 76ers luncheon in Sinclairville.
“It is an honor of a lifetime to represent my hometown. I want to make sure that you know that I am here, and my team is here, as a resource for you, whatever your problem. Our motto is, ‘No problem is too big and no problem is too small.’ We’re here to serve you, the taxpayers of Western New York and the Southern Tier,” Langworthy said.
After Langworthy joked that he hopes he has not given the community many reasons to get rid of him yet, he then stressed the upcoming deadline of Dec. 7 for seniors to be enrolled for Medicare coverage.
“If seniors miss this window, it’s really tough. They have to wait a whole year to make changes,” Langworthy said.
The annual window to enroll or adjust Medicare coverage is now open, until Dec. 7.
“That deadline of Dec. 7, Pearl Harbor Day, that’s a hard deadline. If you need help with it, my office is there, and ready, and willing to help you out,” Langworthy said to the crowd.
Referring to the crowd, Langworthy later added, “I want them to know someone is there to help them, to fight for them. That’s what we were hoping to accomplish here today.”
Langworthy made his way throughout the Fire Hall, and shook hands with each guest. Multiple times, Langworthy engaged in discussions with members of the community, where they raised issues they had – most notably, inflation.
“People are concerned about inflation. That’s what I hear everywhere,” Langworthy said. “The cost of gas and groceries ate up the purchasing power for social security benefits. … We have to deflate the costs, and the only way to do that is to get government spending under control.”
Langworthy noted that especially around the holidays, the increased cost of groceries is especially hard to swallow. Citing a study recently released by the New York Farm Bureau referencing the cost of a Thanksgiving dinner, Langworthy said, “If you look at a four-year window from 2019 to today, that meal has gone up 53%. I’ve talked to several folks here that are hosting 16 people at their house. That’s a big expense, and that’s one holiday celebration.”
Once Langworthy’s trip around the room and his address to the audience concluded, a slice of pie was both the figurative and literal icing on top for Langworthy’s visit, and the 76ers were happy to welcome him.
“It’s just a great place to be. I wouldn’t think of working anywhere else. It’s been so rewarding,” said France, who now organizes the events for the 76ers after working as both a dishwasher and a cook.
To contribute to the Meals on Wheels program, donations can be made to the Sinclairville 76ers at PO Box 426, Sinclairville, NY, 14782.