GARLAND — While visiting the town’s Senior Center, Lisa Coley enjoyed listening to live music, entertainment and fellowship with community members.
The Clinton resident was one of many who attended a Thursday celebration for Older Americans Month. The purpose is to honor the contributions of seniors through the theme, “Blaze a Trail.”
“It’s nice for them to have this because there’s a lot of senior citizens in the country and throughout the world,” Coley said. “It’s real nice to have a day for senior citizens so everybody can come together and have a lot of fun.”
Organized by the Administration for Community Living, the observance began in the 1960s and gives residents the opportunity to learn about the contributions of seniors and how to provide assistance.
“I’m so excited and overwhelmed by the groups of people who are here,” said Marie Faircloth, organizer and senior center director. “I think this is a way to showcase our seniors and our visitors and let people know what’s in the community. It’s just a fun fellowship day and I’m overwhelmed.”
Participants were able to receive health information about services available in Sampson County and nearby areas. Charlene Carter, Kosterman Chiropractic Center, offered free computer scans to find out if they had any issues with their necks, that may contribute to health issues which need to be evaluated. Carter said the event was fantastic and wonderful to have in the community.
“There are people in the community willing to help them and take care of them,” Carter said. “They’re not alone.
“I think seniors are very important,” Carter said. “I think if we could spend more time with our seniors, learn what they learn, our children of today and tomorrow would not make the same mistakes they did.”
Many businesses and organizations such as Kosterman Chiropractic and other service based groups participated in the event. One of them included the American Red Cross (ARC). Members of the organization attended to spread awareness and to seek volunteers for the humanitarian group that provides emergency assistance and disaster relief to communities. Lori Nieves, a disaster action team member of the Sandhills Chapter of ARC, educated participants about being prepared for emergency situations.
“We want to make sure they have an emergency kit and to let them know we’re here for them,” Nieves said about the mission and recruiting volunteers.
Like many participants, Nieves believes it’s important to celebrate seniors.
“They’re the founders of our areas,” she said. “Without them, we wouldn’t be here.”
Gilbert Owens, director of the Roseboro Nutrition Site, said it’s something residents from the town always look forward to.
“We take several trips a year, but this is one event that they never want to miss,” Owens said.
Owens commended Marie and other participants for putting a lot of long hours into planning the event for local seniors to enjoy.
“Where would we be without them?” Owens questioned. “The seniors in Sampson County are still raising children, they’re raising their children’s children. Some of them still work and are very active in their community, especially in their churches.
“Obviously, they have a great deal of wisdom that they can give to the young people and this current generation will never have to experience some of the things that this older generation went through. We need them to remind us of how difficult life used to be, compared to the way it is now.”
During the event, Garland Mayor Winifred Murphy presented a proclamation for Older Americans Month.
“I urge every resident to take time this month to acknowledge older adults and the people and the people who serve them as powerful and vital individuals who greatly contribute to our community,” Murphy said.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.