"We give away Star Awards every year to acknowledge outstanding achievements," said Lana Johnson, SEMO AAA Nutrition Project director. "However, Linda went above and beyond what anybody has ever done. We felt like she needed to be recognized for that. We created the award for her and we will only give it out when somebody displays achievements far beyond the call of duty."
Sutton was awarded for her work in raising money and interest in building and expanding the services of the new senior citizen's center in East Prairie. In 1994, when Sutton took the position of senior citizen administrator, the center, which provides lunch each day of the week for men and women age 60 or over, only held 50 people and its Meals on Wheels program consisted of one volunteer delivering meals to 30 people.
Today, the center serves lunch in a brand new facility which holds 200 people. The number of seniors attending lunch each day climbed from an average of 15 to well over 60.
The Meals on Wheels program is now made up of a fleet of four vans on five routes delivering lunch to 120 seniors in the East Prairie area.
"We are very happy with the results so far. We are able to serve a lot more people in this new facility," said Sutton. "The seniors enjoy coming here and it makes my day when they come here laughing and talking. It has been a very big change but a very good change."
The meals are free to any person over age 60, no matter where he or she lives.
"We have had ladies from Sikeston and all over the area come eat with us. The ladies love it and word is getting around," said Sutton.
Johnson said this growth was in large part due to Sutton.
"She got people rallied around her and created a real driving force in getting the center," said Johnson.
From making calls to attending meetings with the county commissioners to walking door-to-door, Sari Kersey, assistant administrator, said Sutton has been an amazing asset to the center.
"Linda did all in her power to get the word out about the center and was a big part in successfully pushing to get a percentage of taxes to go toward the center," said Kersey.
Sutton also expanded the activities provided by the senior citizen's center. There are weekly quilting, crafts and exercises, which Sutton said many of the seniors have been responded to.
Also Sutton has kept in close contact with other senior centers across the area. Recently, the East Prairie Senior's Center donated an old van to the Puxico Senior Center. Sutton said there are many people to be reached, not only in East Prairie but also across the area and the van will help more people in Puxico than it would in East Prairie.
Happy with her position, Sutton said she will continue to stay on as the administrator for years to come. "I love it and I plan to keep going as long as I can," commented Sutton.
To which Kersey added, "and believe me, we need her."