When the call was put out to do something for the Johnstown community, Bob Muench and a group of his friends decided to act.

When the call was put out to do something for the Johnstown community, Bob Muench and a group of his friends decided to act.

The mission came from the bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus, encouraging area churches to come up with a plan to help seniors.

Muench already was a member of the Alexandria Buckeyes in Licking County. He and his friends realized Johnstown had no such group.

"When we started this, we weren't certain what was going to happen," said Muench, who has been a Johnstown resident for about 14 years. "But it became obvious there was a need."

Last February, about 45 people showed up for the Johnstown Area Seniors' (JAS) first official gathering at the Church of the Ascension, 555 S. Main St. More than 100 people came to this month's meeting, Muench said.

The nondenominational, nonprofit group for those ages 55 and older meets at 10 a.m. on the second Tuesday of each month for coffee, a program and lunch. The cost is $5.

"What this has done is allowed people to get together for some camaraderie," said the group's communications director, Don Litterini, whose wife of 50 years died last February. "We wanted the seniors in our area to know that there's an opportunity to get together. But we also want people to know this isn't a Catholic organization. The church is providing us a place to meet."

The group's treasurer, Don Vocca, drives in from Pataskala.

"We really have some fun poking fun at each other," he said. "I grill the hamburgers and hot dogs for the lunches, and people talk about my culinary (expertise)."

Muench and John Stover, another member of the congregation, serve as the group's co-chairmen.

The steering committee meets on the third Tuesday of every month to establish meals, agendas and trips.

In late October, more than 50 members traveled by bus to Marion to visit the home of President Warren G. Harding and his memorial, one of the largest to a U.S. president outside Washington.

The trip also included a stop at the Marion Popcorn Museum. The goal is to have four similar trips each year.

"What I like is that as soon as we get together, all egos, religion and politics are left at the door," Muench said. "We're a group that's looking to get out of the house and simply have some fun."

The group has filed the necessary paperwork to request funding from the Licking County senior levy, Vocca said.

Licking County commissioners in January approved allocations of $4.53 million to 22 agencies.

The Licking County Aging Program, which provides transportation, meals and home, social and health services for seniors, received the largest amount at $3.48 million.

Senior levy funding began in 1986. It was expected to raise roughly $4.3 million this year.

Those interested in joining JAS should attend attend a meeting at the Church of the Ascention.