Lakey's care and concern for others honored in St. John

Jennifer Stultz
Pratt Tribune
Jim Lakey, left, and his wife, Marlies, listen as Sandyland Shepherd’s Center director Martha Cutright reads a certificate of appreciation that was presented to Lakey as a special retirement party in his honor earlier this month. Lakey served as Sandyland director for 26 years.

After 26 years of serving the St. John community as director of Sandyland Shepherd's Center and as an integral leader on the St. John-Hudson Ministerial Alliance, friends, family and co-workers of Jim Lakey honored him with a special retirement celebration April 11 in St. John.

Ray Davidson, past-president of the Ministerial Alliance presented Lakey with several certificates recognizing his special service to the community, along with Martha Cutright, who is the new co-director Sandyland Shepherd's Center together with her husband David Cutright.

"Jim has always been very good at connecting older adults to our community," Davidson said. "He has made a difference in thousands of older Americans here in Stafford County."

While Lakey said he was honored by the special attention and the framed certificates, he was surprised that it had already been 26 years that he served as a community leader.

"I didn't know it had been that long," he said. "It seems like only a few years. It's true that it goes by fast."

Several in the 30-plus crowd offered their insights into what made Lakey such an effective leader.

Comments range from "very caring" to "always concerned about others."

Lakey came from Boston to St. John over two decades ago and was always committed to improving life in his rural community for all others, regardless of background or economic stability.

In addition to his involvement as director of the Sandyland Shepherd's Center and treasurer of the St. John-Hudson Ministerial Alliance, he served on the St. John City Commission and was a professor at Barton Community College for many years.

"What I like so much about this area is that we just help everybody," Lakey said. "We just find out the needs and if they are up a creek, we help 'em."

Martha Cutright said that Sandyland Shepherd's Center is celebrating its 30th year as a non-profit center for seniors this May. The mayor of St. John will be signing a proclamation for the celebration.

"Our center, it's patterned after the Shepherd's Centers of America out of Kansas City, MO," Cutright said. "We offer services for seniors, such as health equipment, monthly learning opportunities, rides to health appointments, and local news programming of local events. The local news, daily bulletin boards, local government coverage (school board, city council & county commission), and feature videos help seniors know what's happening when they are unable to attend the meetings."

Cutright said it was a priority at this time to rebuild our outreach offerings. She and her husband, who began as directors in February 2021 when Lakey retired, are hoping more volunteers will step up to help in many capacities at the senior center.

The senior center is hosting a Lunch and Learn workshop on Wednesday, April 28, featuring a CORE ministries spokesperson. Another Lunch and Learn session will be held in May 2021.