Sr. Center is a nice place to spend time By Yelena Hensley

Florrie Williams, Lucinda Strickland and Katie M. Russ proudly present dolls they made out of yarn.

Obviously, communication is very important. Everybody needs someone to talk to, to do something together, to support during hard times as well as just to feel useful. As people grow older, it becomes more difficult to find a social circle where they feel comfortable, some local seniors recently told The Eatonton Messenger. But in Eatonton, elderly people can find support and satisfy their need to socialize at the Eatonton-Putnam Senior Center. “Eatonton has had a senior citizen group since 1970s,” said LaToshia Maddox, Senior Services director. “In 2013, it moved to the Plaza Community Center and has remained there since.” Seniors meet 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. According to Maddox, the number of people in the group varies. On average, 23-25 people attend but the center can have 40. “I wish we had more men,” she said, noting “over 90 percent of the group are women.” Transportation is available for those who cannot come on their own, and 90 percent of the people who attend use Putnam Transit. The center is funded through a grant from the Middle Georgia Regional Area Agency, with some funding coming from the county. There are a number of activities seniors engage in - crafts, exercises, going to the movies and eating out, having educational classes and volunteer activities that are presently helping to raise funds for the victims of Hurricane Harvey. In 2015 and 2016, they participated in the activity named Reading With the G’s for the Head Start children, where seniors read for them at school. “We didn’t do it this year because seniors don’t want to get up so early,” said Maddox, laughing. The storytime at Head Start can be as early as 9 a.m. The example of crafts they are doing include making wreaths, adult coloring, painting ceramic mugs and tiles as well as making angels at Christmas. Mugs and tiles are often taken home, whereas wreaths and angels remain are used to decorate the senior center. Exercises include tai chi, walking, dance and stand-up aerobics for both men and women. Tai chi takes place every Tuesday 11 a.m. to noon, and dance is every other Friday 11 a.m. to noon. “I try to plan all activities between 11 a.m. and noon and then between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. because that’s when the majority of people are present,” Maddox said. Educational classes include, among others, a diabetes class, last wills, taxes (conducted by Pam Lancaster, tax commissioner) and insurance (home, auto, life). Most speakers are volunteers from the community. The center also has four computers. They are for general use in case somebody needs to type or print something. Once a year, the seniors go to the farmers market and get $20 worth of produce for free. Every month they select two seniors of the month – one person is chosen by the director and another one is voted for by group members. They share a meal at noon every day and celebrate birthday parties. “It’s real nice here,” said Shirley Ford-Farley, “We have fun. We meet people and get to go places.” “It is a chance to meet other people,” added Barbara Johnson. “We went to the movies on Monday and also attended the Motown show at The Plaza. We loved it.” Meals on Wheels is also available for the seniors, delivering hot meals to their homes. The program is funded by the Middle Georgia Regional Area Agency. “At the moment, we serve 38 people,” Maddox said. “We have two drivers who do the deliveries – one delivers to 13 people and another one to 25 people.” To enroll in the center or in the Meals on Wheels program, people have to be 60 or older. Even though there is an allotted number of people in both, anybody is welcome, including the disabled. The senior center is located in The Plaza Arts Community Center, behind The Plaza Arts Center in Eatonton.

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