On Thursday, July 23, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m., senior citizens drove through the parking lot at FiftyForward Martin Center in Brentwood as staff members handed out lunch and a goody bag.
The Beep-and-Greet event was organized by FiftyForward to help those most vulnerable and isolated engage with human contact safely and to have a little fun along the way.
“COVID-19 is doubly hard for seniors,” Paige Thompson, board member for FiftyForward, said. “With the Martin Center and other FiftyForward centers not being open, so many seniors are feeling isolated not just from loved ones and their friends but also from being and keeping active. My heart aches for them. These centers are lifelines to our senior community.”
A luau theme helped set the festive tone for seniors who have been isolated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The isolation has been hard on their spirits and emotional health, as they are distanced from the activities they love and the people whom they are normally surrounded by.
Barbara Hunt is the new center director and had been on the job for just a few weeks before the pandemic shut the Martin Center down. For her, the day was about meeting people, getting to know names and making sure the seniors knew the staff misses them and cannot wait to be together again.
Hunt spoke with Bill Farmer, who shared his appreciation for the event. Honking his car’s horn, the smile on Farmer’s face spoke to the happiness he felt.
Center employees Tonia Pyburn and Lorie Owen helped hand out goody bags donated by CIGNA, and lunch was donated by FiftyForward Fresh Meals on Wheels. The line was long and the conversations treasured, as some hated to move on because they were chatting and smiling.
Although centers are closed, FiftyForward continues to provide essential services and resources (especially food) to older adults in the community. If you know of an older adult in need of assistance, call the resource line at 615-743-3416.
To learn more about FiftyForward Martin Center, visit https://fiftyforward.org/locations/martin-center/.