REAL Services provides programs that promote nutrition, self-sufficiency, education, and protection for 30,000 people in northern Indiana each year.
Created in May of 1966 as part of the planning division of United Way, REAL Services was established to develop a service network to meet the needs of older adults in St. Joseph County. 1967, REAL Services received the first federal grant in Indiana from the U.S. Administration on Aging (AOA) for Research and Development. This grant funded the Information, Counseling, and Referral (ICR) program, which originally sent interviewers door-to-door with questionnaires to determine the immediate needs of the elderly in the community. With this information, REAL Services could then refer seniors in need to the appropriate health, welfare, employment, housing, legal aid, and other relevant community services. As a result of the ICR project, a directory of community services for older adults was prepared and distributed, and new programs were developed to meet any unmet needs.
In 1968, REAL Services designed the first program in the entire United States to set up nutrition sites to provide meals and socialization for older adults—a program which has served as a model for nutrition assistance across the country. REAL Services has since established itself not only as a state-wide leader, but as a national example in effectively serving the senior community through innovative ideas, competent management, and sound financial guidance.
Without REAL Services, more than 5,000 older adults each year would have to move to nursing homes to receive the care they need, and 2,000 people in the community 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 to maintain their integrity and independence, and to achieve satisfaction in their lives. To do this, REAL Services runs more than 20 distinct programs that promote nutrition, self-sufficiency, education, and protection for 30,000 people in northern Indiana each year.