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By GEORGIA MURPHY
For Starkville Daily News
Festive balloons were all about and paper flowers decorated the tables.
On each flower petal was the name of someone who has visited during the last three years.
The names represent the real reason for the celebration. The names belong to real people.
It was a celebration of the third birthday of the Starkville Senior Enrichment Center located on Miley Drive.
More than 60 guests crowded into the room that is the Senior Center and some spilled out into the foyer of the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District (GTPDD) building where the Center is housed.
Rudy Johnson, executive director of GTPDD welcomed the crowd and a few remarks were made. Afterward everyone enjoyed caramel cake, zuchinni cake, rum cake, and a plain white â€śMaxineâ€ť cake served with ice cream, coffee, and iced tea. Shoulder-to-shoulder everyone visited as they ate.
During the past three years, over 7,000 visits to the Center have resulted in new friendships, laughter, and many fun times shared. Retired life can be great, especially when fun times are shared with other folks.
The aches and pains of aging seem to fade away for a while when visits are filled with laughter and good conversation.
Among the crowd were Mayor Wiseman, Alderman Jeremiah Dumas and Oktibbeha County Supervisors Carl Clardy, Marvel Howard, and Don Posey, County Administrator.
The idea for a Senior Center started with the MSU Extension Service Smart Aging/Healthy Futures Forum directed by Dr. Bonnie Carew and Ann Sansing in 2008.
It was decided that a Retirement Community should have a Senior Center. A small group was formed to research possibilities for such a venture.
Rudy Johnson graciously agreed to provide space for the Center and the GTPDD staff welcomed seniors with friendly, helpful attitudes. Sharon Duke, GTPDD staffer was named Center Director.
Dan Allison, Mike Williams, Jack Denson, Arma Salazar, John Hardy, Jacky Dorsey, Elizabeth Gwin, Nancy Eddy, Jim McKell, Georgia Murphy and Supervisor Daniel Jackson were the first volunteers. They helped in so many ways to get the Senior Center off to a good start.
Other volunteers who signed on are Lynda Graham, Amy Ford, Marie and Donnie Mestas, Margaret Weining, Bobbie Potts and Kay Hardy.
During the past three years, over 5,000 hours of volunteer service have been logged. The Center is run entirely by volunteer service of senior citizens.
Cooperative associations between the Center and the Starkville community have taken place.
Some churches and civic clubs, Starkville Daily News, the Mayorâ€™s Healthy Starkville Committee, MSU Day One and DAWG Days groups have shared various engagements with the Senior Center.
Operation Christmas Child, S.O.S. for Servicemen Project, and Christmas gifts for Veterans Project have been yearly service projects of the Center.
A Senior Center Advisory Board was established. Made up of citizens from the community, GTPDD staff associated with aging, and senior volunteers at the Center, Sheriff Dolph Bryan, Dr. Larnzy Carpenter, Sharon Duke, Nancy Eddy, Bobby Gann, Kay Hardy, Rudy Johnson, Jim McKell, Larry Mullins, Georgia Murphy, Matthew Rye, Sandra Sistrunk, Patsy Stuart, and Margaret Weining serve as the Advisory Board.
Over 150 presentations or activities have taken place at the Senior Center.
Members of the community have graciously served as speakers, shared musical talent, given demonstrations, and led activities enjoyed by seniors.
Starkville Daily News Around Town Column lists the daily happenings at the Senior Center.
Senior retirees who visit the Center should be independently active.
Snacks are available at the Center, but no meals are served. A wide variety of table games are played and a jig saw puzzle is always in the works.
The Senior Center is located at 106 Miley Drive inside the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District building. The phone number is 324-1965. Seniors are always welcome.