By: Allayana Darrow. Original article appeared in the Sheridan Press and can be found here.
Any other year, Older Americans Month at The Hub on Smith would include a Cinco de Mayo celebration, Hawaiian day and cowboy day, Barb Blue recalled from her 25 years with The Hub.
Executive Director Carmen Rideout read an Older Americans Month proclamation at the Sheridan City Council meeting May 18 — signed by Mayor Roger Miller.
This year, Sheridan’s older Americans are being recognized through The Hub’s “Make Your Mark” theme — celebrating the mentorship, volunteerism and community service many senior citizens continue to contribute each day, Fun and Wellness Coordinator Lisa Wells said.
Some Hub volunteers, like Judy Hayworth, also volunteer with the WYO Performing Arts and Education Center, CASA and Sheridan Memorial Hospital. A gracious, intelligent, red-headed “powerhouse,” Wells said Hayworth encapsulates someone who makes their mark daily. The theme highlights not only exceptional older adults but also caregivers, peers and neighbors of all ages who seek to improve senior’s lives, Wells said.
Wells recognized Blue for her initiative to start community-wide bingo through food box delivery. Blue directs Day Break at The Hub and has a gift for honoring people as individuals with an upbeat attitude, while providing respite for caregivers, Wells said.
Seniors are prompted to respond to the question, “What time and talent have you used, or are using, to make a difference in your family, workplace, or community?” Non-seniors are invited to consider, “What time and talent have you used, or are using, to make a difference in the lives of older adults or caregivers in your family, workplace, or community?
Wells expected to hear reminiscence of years’ past but was surprised to hear feedback from seniors mostly related to COVID-19, including sources of personal pride as to how they spend their time these days.
Some write poems or create art, while others share their faith or make hundreds of masks for community distribution, Wells said. As she recognized the challenge of prolonged isolation for Sheridan’s senior “go-getters,” Wells described Older Americans Month 2020 as a humbling time to realize how seniors view themselves, in the context of a long life full of different experiences.
Blue sends trivia to her clients to keep their minds engaged. Every day, seniors who received home-delivered meals also receive five numbers for bingo. Blue looks forward to phone calls from clients who have nearly won a blackout bingo or simply want to chat.
The initiative has grown larger than she anticipated, Blue said. One Hub employee sends bingo numbers to her mother in Arizona.
Blue offered a note for winners to leave if they had bingo but has found most are too excited and choose a phone call instead, “so I started eating my lunch at my desk to be by the phone,” she said.
Bingo talk turns into 30-plus-minute chit chat about personal care needs, family or any other topics that arise naturally. One client was thrilled to receive a bottle of Koltiska Distillery hand sanitizer in her bingo prize bag.
Prior to The Hub’s closure, Bingo caller was Blue’s favorite job. Many of her remote bingo players are also familiar faces in the dining hall, but others represent newfound friendships — people she hopes will become more present within The Hub community once the facility fully reopens.
From her perspective, many seniors are ready to get out and put isolation behind them but still hold some apprehension about being in public and vulnerable to COVID-19.
Joyce Erpelding responds to “What time and talent have you used to make a difference in the community?”
Stuck in the house because….
By Joyce Erpelding, May 22, 2020
Stuck in the house because…
There’s a virus out there because
Someone left the door open because
By accident or on purpose because
This bug is mostly uncontrollable because
It’s everywhere on everyone because
A cough has germs don’t you know because
A sneeze can travel 20 feet because
Stay inside they say because
It’s dangerous out there because
Can’t go out to eat because
Exercising with friends no no no because
Playing pinochle with the gang no no no because
Challenging someone to cribbage no no no because
Table with hot poker players no no no because
Bingo with Barb at the senior center no no no because
Puzzle table is empty no one there because
We’re all struck inside don’t you know because
Four walls are closing in on me because
There’s only so much paperwork to do because
So many projects to complete because
Books are read and reread because
All because there’s COVID-19 on the rampage
And because we’re stuck in the house
P.S. Bright moment of the day because
Meals on Wheels is at the door. Another human being is here!