Lawton, Okla._A group of Lawton senior citizens are calling on the City of Lawton to let them take over a local landmark. Group leaders say the now vacant National Guard Armory building near I-44 and Cache Road would benefit their members significantly. Right now, senior citizens meet at several smaller locations across Lawton.
The group met Sunday at the HC King Recreational Center, where they discussed plans on how to go about it and the importance of having one central location. They said a central location will unify their members and also give them the opportunity to bring in more government funds. Member Heinz Kyle said one issue is the negative impact of multiple small groups scattered throughout Lawton.
"There's a tendency they become very isolated in their little districts and they don't see the whole picture of what senior services are available," said Kyle.
He said without their own building, those groups can not legally apply for funding most of them badly need.
"By having our own building, sections, we can qualify for and go for grants that just weren't available to us before. We can address the McMahon Foundation. With the building we're talking about it's so unique and so beautiful, I think we can approach the National Heritage Foundation and get a grant from them," he said.
Member Albert Bauder said while grant money is important, it's not the only reason the group wants to move. He said their safety has also been threatened after one of their current locations was repeatedly targeted by burglars.
"This here place, like he said, has been burglarized several times. Well, down there, it might be more open but everyone and their mother that goes by can actually see something. I think the crime rate down there would be a lot less," he said.
Both Kyle and Bauder stressed that it's important for seniors to take care of other seniors, and the group at Sunday's meeting said they're determined to do just that.
"We care for our people our age. We're experiencing a lot of things we didn't experience when we were working. When you're out of your regular work job, you need association with various personalities and you get that at a place like this," said Lawton senior citizen Orvella Littlefield.
Kyle said today's society is different than it was thirty years ago.
"Kids they fly the coop, they have their problems to deal with and you have more and more seniors, especially in a community like Lawton, that are just kind of left on their own. In order to give them the feeling of security of belonging, that there is some that cares. It's fallen on the seniors to do that," he said.
Kyle said they plan on speaking with each member of city council about their situation. They would like to get this issue on the city council's agenda as soon as possible. He said the group's goal is to have a successful senior citizen center similar to the ones in Duncan and Altus.