Judy and Willard Fordice

Judy Fordice and her husband Willard Fordice at a senior center event.

Who are senior citizens? There is no clearly defined age when an American becomes a “senior.”

Senior citizen generally refers to someone who is at least 60 or 65 years of age. Sometimes you realize you are a senior citizen when you go from being called a “miss” to a “ma’am” ... it happens to all of us. Some are switching to using the term “older people.” Now days a “senior citizen” conjures images of nursing homes, walkers and dentures.

Once we moved to our new building in September 2018, the Harkenrider Senior Activity Center, curiosity brought people in to look around. Yes, we have a beautiful building that is for seniors only. The use of our facility is restricted to senior citizens ages 60 years and older as required by the Community Development Block Grant funding.

The center had been serving meals in-house five days a week and delivering Meals On Wheels twice a week. It also offered exercise classes four days a week, pinochle, tea time, cooking classes, four different study groups, arts and crafts, game day, coffee, conversation groups and meetings. The center was a great source of meeting old and new friends, and socializing.

However, because of the virus, every activity has been canceled. Meals are restricted to take-outs only on Tuesdays and Thursdays by calling before 11 a.m. Meals on Wheels are available by calling before 10 a.m.

The number of hot meals being delivered has tripled since March 13. The take-out orders increase daily.

The kitchen staff has expanded the menu to include the food donations received from local businesses. The office staff is available three days a week; taking orders for meals, calling our clients to chat with them and make contact.

One of our clients said she has always lived in the best isolation area possible: her home. Another called, crying and in a panic because she heard the center was closed; she relies on the Meals on Wheels. One of our office staff has a schedule of calling our clients on a rotating basis just to visit with them a few minutes, send cards and acknowledge birthdays.

Many of our clients are homebound and some do not drive. Some do not have computers and are not connected to social media. In many instances, our Meals on Wheels volunteers are the only contact seniors have every week. Our drivers are very aware of anything that looks “out of the ordinary,” and have been credited with saving a life.

The lack of not being able to come together, share a meal and a cup of coffee is devastating to our seniors. Socializing is essential for their mental and emotional health, to have an overall feeling of connecting to society and companionship with others. Our staff will continue to prepare meals and stay in contact with our clients in the hope that they are safe and avoid the virus.

The Hermiston Senior Center is located in the Harkenrider Senior Activity Center at 255 NE Second St., Hermiston. Contact us by phone at 541-567-3582 or e-mail at hsc@hermiston.or.us and like us on Facebook!

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Judy Fordice is the secretary of the Hermiston Senior Center.

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