Matthews jumps to serve at Senior Center

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 3, 2000

Every weekday morning, Josephine Matthews takes a bus to the Natchez Senior Citizens’ Multi-Purpose Center, arriving more or less at 8 a.m., just as she has for 17 years. But Matthews isn’t there for the swimming, or crocheting, or reading programs. Instead, she is there to volunteer. And she has the daily routine down pat, from piano playing and teaching nutrition to performing a set of jumping jacks as well as any boot camp cadet.

As soon as she steps off the bus, Matthews is in the adult day care room, taking attendance, leading them in crafts and other hobbies and leading participants in easier exercises such as arm and leg lifts.

&uot;You never force anyone to do the exercises — they do it if they want to,&uot;&160;Matthews said. &uot;They know how they feel better than you do.&uot;

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On Thursdays, Matthews then escorts them across the hall to a classroom for an hour-long Bible study led by a local pastor.

And at 11 a.m., she goes with them to the cafeteria for pre-lunch activities.

She plays the piano and helps lead them in singing songs, mostly hymns or patriotic songs.

She reads nutrition tips, such as how to read food labels at the grocery store, and teaches them how the items in the lunch they’re about to eat fit into the food pyramid.

Matthews then leads them in more rigorous exercises that would be a workout for just about anyone. At 78, Matthews can touch her toes and perform side bends and jumping jacks with little difficulty.

She helps serve takeout lunches and serve those who eat at the center but cannot get up easily to get their own meals.

She then serves those who come through the cafeteria line before sitting down to eat lunch herself.

In addition to her work at the center, Matthews also volunteers as a member of the Stewpot’s Board of Directors and helps with Sunday school at Union Baptist Church.

&uot;When I help somebody else, it helps me,&uot; Matthews said. &uot;It’s a blessing.&uot;