Mena area seniors gathered last Thursday for the annual Thanksgiving lunch at the Mena-Polk County Senior Center. The lunch was just one of the many events and regular activities hosted and organized by this facility and its staff of 7 employees, and supported by many volunteers and dedicated community supporters.
As we enter the season where thankfulness is celebrated, we asked a sampling of attendees for their thoughts as they mingled and socialized before the meal was served.
“Today’s lunch, and blessings I can’t count,” said Harlan Powell. “My wife and I are thankful for all things”. Harlan later lead a blessing of the meal, a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with turkey, dressing and pumpkin pie.
Ida Pitchford is a regular and been attending the Senior Center’s Thanksgiving luncheon for a number of years. She estimated she had been to 15 of the luncheons at the center.
Another regular is Priscilla Adams. “I’m thankful I’m still around,” said Priscilla. “I’ve been coming to the senior center here in Mena since the old place in 1985.”
Charles Caster and wife Mary shared the story how their lives have been joined together through the Mena Senior Center.
“I tell you what I’m thankful for,” said Charles Caster. “I am thankful for my family. I have 16 great grandkids and grandkids.” I was married to my first wife 64 years, and she passed away from cancer. My second wife, Mary, she had been married to her husband for 47 years until he passed away, also from cancer. Mary and I met here at the Senior Center, and we’ve been happily married for 10 years. “
Patsy Austin is volunteer emcee at the senior center Monday, Wednesday and Friday and is at the center 5 days a week as a volunteer. Her enthusiasm and commitment to the fellowship and value of the services provided by the center to area seniors was impossible to miss. She especially is proud of the kitchen staff and the job they do. “Come back tomorrow for the Broiled Fish with Lemon and Rice Pilaf”, she urged. “Even people who don’t normally like fish rave about it.”
Sara Holliday, Executive Director of the Mena Polk County Senior Center was rightfully proud of the work at the center and the dedication of its staff of seven employees and many other volunteers.
“It is a passion for me, and I have grown very fond of “my seniors” as I call them”, said Mrs. Holliday, who was already looking ahead to the next big luncheon event in December. The Christmas Luncheon will be held December 18th, and Sara invites everyone to put the event on their calendar. She also urges interested seniors to come by and experience the rich variety of weekly events and activities that the center offers.
“A lot goes on here that so many people don’t know about,” said center supporter and volunteer Tawana Gilbert.
Monday and Thursday feature live music from 10:30 am to 11:30 am. Pool tables, game areas, puzzle tables, exercise classes twice a week are only some of the offerings.
“A lot goes on in this county, from bull-riding to live theater,” said Patsy Austin. “If you’re bored here you have a problem!