Senior Center to Give Saturday Openings a Whirl
The action will fill a void in seniors' lives. Saturday's St. Patrick's celebration was a dry run on the road to opening the Center future Saturdays.
The guests came early and want to come more often.
That was the point of Saturday's first St. Patrick's Day breakfast at the Swampscott Senior Center.
Weekends are a lonely time for many seniors — days and hours of television and silence, said several Friends of the Swampscott Senior Center, the group that served up Saturday's festivities.
The Center, located at the rear of Swampscott High, is open only weekdays.
But the Friends want to see about opening on Saturdays.
The St. Patrick's breakfast was a trial run, of sorts, said Rod Pickard, the Center's assistant director.
The Center hopes to launch a full-fledged pilot program next month whereby it will be open for three or four hours on Saturday, occasionally. It might be open every other Saturday or less frequently.
The Friends have recruited five volunteers to open the doors on these days but need several closers — volunteers who would close the center after the seniors leave.
On Saturday, some seniors were so eager for the gathering that they arrived hours before the event started, said organizer Mary Curtis.
With very little publicity the event drew 37 guests.
Friends of the Seniors members including Deb Bogardus, Linda Hinchey, Myron Stone and Howie Vatcher flipped pancakes, cooked bacon and sausage and served fresh fruit cups.
Other event organizers Jack Sweeney, Elise Scanlan and Rosalind Stone worked the dining room socializing with the guests and making sure they were feeling at home.
On weekdays the Center sees to it that the visitors are active — playing cards, talking, laughing, knitting, exercising and eating.
The center also serves a nutritious lunch each day for $2.
But many Senior Center regulars eat and do very little on the weekend, and that's not a good thing, the assistant director said.
"If you are alone for twenty-four hours, you lose that ability to use your mind, to use your voice and be active," Pickard said.
This is especially true of people who live alone — widows and widowers. And many of them don't eat properly on the weekend, he said.
The long weekend are especially tough.
"When it is a long weekend you'd be surprised how many (seniors) look forward to Tuesday," Pickard said.
St. Patrick's Day was a first step towards changing the seniors' weekends from silence and inactivity to a time to talk and do things.