Helping hands and more needed at Natchez senior center

Published 12:11 am Wednesday, December 7, 2011

BEN HILLYER | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Natchez Senior Center worker Glenda Harrison pours glasses of milk to seniors eating lunch at the center Tuesday afternoon.

NATCHEZ — Those who have enjoyed many Natchez Christmases before us might need a helping hand this holiday season.

Sabrena Bartley, executive director of Natchez Senior Citizens’ Multipurpose Center on Homochitto Street, said the best and most important way to contribute to senior services is to give to the United Way. Bartley said donors can designate their gift for senior services through the Natchez-Adams Council on Aging.

The council is a sponsor of senior services that benefit the elderly in Adams County.

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“The services are year-round, which includes meals that are cooked and served on site Monday through Friday, and for meals delivered to home-bound individuals, transportation and then activities that help to promote and enhance their quality of life,” Bartley said.

Beyond designating donations for senior services through the United Way, Bartley said there is a need for volunteers throughout the year.

“We always need volunteers to help, which can be as simple as sitting and reading to someone, a conversation or helping someone with a daily activity like balancing a checkbook,” Bartley said. “There are so many volunteer opportunities for individuals any time of the year.”

Residents are invited to donate items to the center as well, just call first.

Bartley said at the moment, there are two seniors who are in desperate need of motorized wheelchairs.

“Two seniors are having difficulty walking and are not strong enough in the arms for a walker or regular wheelchair,” Bartley said. “One lady is on a walker, but continues to fall because her legs and arms are so weak.”

Some seniors living on a fixed income have skipped meals in the past. Bartley does not want to see this happen, so the center collects and distributes gift cards from Natchez Markets.

The center will also take G or PG-rated movies, and they are in need of a DVD player.

Bartley said the economic downturn has hurt local seniors, and the little things can make a big difference.

“The last four to five years, there has been a steady increase in needs of the senior population,” Bartley said. “As inflation and cost of living has increased so drastically, it’s put a real hardship on seniors. So when we do bingo door prizes, we give household items — washing powder, soap and dish detergent. Our staff has been awesome about picking up little items. You would be surprised how grateful people are for those items. If you need it at your home, we can pair it with someone here and make it work.”

But more than anything, Bartley emphasized that everyone needs to check on seniors at home on a weekly or daily basis.

“Across the season, everyone please remember to check on elderly in their communities for that human touch,” Bartley said. “While we serve 400 seniors in this area, there are others on our waiting list who may not be touched by a person. Loneliness is a destroyer of life, so care for them in communities, churches and your neighborhood.”