Jocelyn Meeks has been going to the Mesquite Senior Center for more than five years for lunch, but when she drove there on Friday to get lunch at the drive-thru, she was met with staff dressed up in Easter bunny outfits and singing.
© Janice Ridondo/For The Spectrum & Daily News
Residents in need came by car, by bike and by foot to receive meals from the Mesquite Senior Center on Friday, April 10, 2020.
“I was thinking this is Easter lunch, but it seemed more like Christmas,” Meeks said “They had toilet paper with paper bunnies on them for a gift. The whole humor of it was great since there isn’t toilet paper in stores now. They are filling up this incredible gap with being fun and dressing up. They couldn’t have done it better.”
Janice Ridondo, community resource manager for the City of Mesquite, also oversees operations at the Senior Center. She said the center closed its doors to the public on March 17 and began serving meals to patrons in the driveway via car-door service.
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“All we’re missing are the roller skates,” Ridondo said. “At the drive-thru we have ‘to go’ style meals prepared very carefully just a few feet away in our kitchen. Everyone is keeping their distance and wearing masks and gloves. The food is brought to each senior who drives up, who stay inside their vehicles at all times. We also have dog treats for those who bring their pets, and of course they get big smiles and all of our love as they drive through,”
Since the closure of the center, the staff has helped in other ways. They have gone grocery shopping for seniors who needed some short-term help. They were also able to give some people face masks that were donated. Seniors have received items the Nevada State U.S. Census office donated that included t-shirts, mini first aid kits, rubber band bracelets and pill boxes, Ridondo said.
© Janice Ridondo/For The Spectrum & Daily News
Mesquite Senior Center staff held an Easter event on Friday March 10 during their drive-thru lunch hours that included dressed up staff, music, singing, and one roll of toilet paper decorated with a paper Easter Bunny for each person that came to pick up lunch.
Joanne Smith is a staff member who teaches exercise classes at the center. When the center closed, she started helping with the drive- thru food service. She made print outs to give to those in her class so they could practice their exercises at home until the center opens back up.
“We have a fantastic team here who really cares about the seniors that we help,” Smith said. “We treat them with respect and try and help them in more ways than just food. Sometimes they will mention other things they need, so the next time they come to get lunch we try and have that for them. We are happy that other people donate different things we can pass on to them. The whole senior center has turned over to help the community. We love all the seniors that come here.”
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The center delivers meals to those who are 60 and older and homebound. The drive- thru meal service is available Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Senior Center parking lot at 102 West Old Mill Road. Individuals can sign up for home delivery if they qualify. Call 702-346-5290
“They spoil us to death,” Meeks said. “First of all, I have never had a bad meal, and also we are all spoiled with affection. All of the staff there really get to know the people that come to eat and we are all like one big family. I am a widow so I really appreciate that. And even though we can’t eat inside, I still drive there every day to see their faces and it makes my day.”
St George Active Life Center Provides Meals, Transportation and At-Home classes
© Jeanie Johnson/For The Spectrum & Daily News
Jeanie Johnson and Michelle Davis are among those working to hand out meals at the St George Active Life Center.
The St George Active Life Center continues to provide meals, transportation and at-home classes to stay connected with seniors since the temporary closure of their center due to COVID-19.
Jeanie Johnson, supervisor with the St George Active Life Center (Previously St George Senior Center) said the facility closed its doors on March 16 for all indoor activities. Inside programs included various exercise classes, art, social groups, clubs, educational classes, support services and special events.
The center is taking extra precautions to safely provide food to seniors. Meals can be picked up between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. by driving to the entrance of the center.
“Since our lunchroom had to close, we initiated a curbside drive-up program where you can drive up to our front doors and we hand you a frozen meal that you can take home and heat up in your microwave,” Johnson said. “We wear our masks and use rubber gloves to deter the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The cost of the meal is a suggested donation of $3.00. We have the driver roll down the passenger window of their car and place the meal either on the seat or the back seat of the car. This keeps our distancing to six feet. If they choose to donate for their meal, a collection box is on the driver’s side so we do not handle the money.”
The center has kept its Meals-On-Wheels program up and running. To qualify, a person must be 60 or older and not able to drive. Staff deliver hot meals Tuesday through Friday. They encourage home bound patrons who are having a hard time preparing or obtaining food to sign up for this program, Johnson said.
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Another service still active is Dial-A-Ride which provides transportation to those who are 60 and older. Center staffers continue to transport patrons to medical appointments, prescription pick up and grocery shopping, Johson said.
Since the closure of the center meant many activities would be halted, the center kept a couple of them available through Zoom so they could be accessed from home.
“One of our volunteer teachers, Chaplain Pamela Jensen is using the Zoom application to continue having her class that she used to run here at the Active Life Center,” Johson said. “Pam teaches a Grief Group class. She felt it essential in keeping touch with her students. They meet once a week on Zoom. With so many of our patrons having an active lifestyle, and with the additional weeks of closure we did not foresee, we have decided to follow Pamela’s lead and offer our patrons on-line zoom exercise classes where they can participate in stretch and strength training classes.”
For information or to sign up for programs, call 435-634-5743. Also visit their Facebook or website at http://coa.washco.utah.gov/st-george/ They are located at 245 N. 200 West in St. George.
Parowan and Cedar City senior citizen centers
© Curtis Crawford/For The Spectrum & Daily News
The cooks at the Cedar City Senior Center are Marty Ming, left, Jackie Francisco, Dale Davis and LuAnn Parker. These days the cooks are preparing meals for Meals on Wheels to help those at home during the coronavirus pandemic.
Iron County senior centers are striving hard to keep their homebound seniors fed amidst closure of their centers.
The center stopped holding activities and closed both the Cedar and Parowan Senior Centers on March 16. They still offer Meals on Wheels for the homebound seniors over 60+ years and keep in contact by phone to check on their conditions, said Curtis Crawford, center coordinator and director.
They have stopped using volunteers in order to maintain upmost safety and cleanliness for seniors.
“Because of the pandemic we are not using volunteers,” Crawford said. “Our staff of cooks and others staff members totaling nine employees are presently taking care of the meals including preparation, cooking, sealing the meals and delivery.”
Presently in Iron County they are providing around 170 meals to homebound seniors. They would like to help everyone but are limited on resources for the time being. They are doing their best to cover the large area span of seniors they attend to that live in Cedar City, Parowan, Paragonah, Summit, Enoch and Cedar Valley, Crawford said.
“Criteria for the Meals on Wheels has not changed because of the virus,” Crawford said. “However, we are limited on availability and others must meet certain requirements to receive this service.”
For more information, call 435-586-0832.
This article originally appeared on St. George Spectrum & Daily News: Senior centers find ways to help despite coronavirus fears