Tuesday, September 21st, 2021
For seniors, it's about being active
By Erin Gardner
Vicki Echtermacht is an enthusiastic line dancer.. . .
CELINA - Eleven senior citizens boogied the morning away recently at the Mercer County Council on Aging in Celina.
The citizens welcomed the opportunity to get out and enjoy the center, which re-opened on June 7 after being closed for more than a year.
"I just need to say how excited we are," said Sharon Green, the center's executive director. "We were closed for about 15 months and I know it was hard on the senior population because, even though there are a few of them that were meeting up with people in other places, the senior center is like their home and this is where they feel comfortable and welcome."
Seniors used to coming the center had to find other things to do when the facility was closed.
Una Hutton, 89, St. Marys, took her dogs on walks every day as long as the weather was OK.
"My daughter lives next door," Hutton said. "We did go out a few times, but I only ate out twice in the whole year. I'm tired of cooking."
Hutton was was born on leap year in Luton, England. Before retirement, Hutton worked for the state of Oklahoma as a typist. She lived in Oklahoma for 41 years and has lived in St. Marys for seven years. At the center, she does chair yoga and line dancing.
Janelle Tumbush, 78, Montezuma, likes chair yoga and line dancing, too. She also likes to go to the senior center garage sales, even though she doesn't need anything. She looks for puzzles and books, she said.
When the center was closed, she cleaned her house and took drives to Windy Point.
"We would go and get a drive-thru chicken dinner and eat outside," Tumbush said. "That's what we did mostly. We looked for the eagles. Sometimes it was so cold out there, but we wanted to get out."
Green said attendance at the center has been great since it reopened.
"One of the things that I noticed that made me really exciting is that we have new faces coming through," she said. "One of the things I was worried about, being closed for so long, is that people who didn't know who we were, who we are (or) what we did would have found other places to go, and maybe they did, but they also had heard about us, are here and (are) participating."
Edna Stout, 89, St. Marys, said it was hard when the center was closed.
She sewed a lot and was able to visit her family. Despite the closure, she said she didn't feel isolated.
"I had things to do and my husband is 10 years older than I am," Stout said.
Before she retired, she had a slaughterhouse in Carthagena and before that she was a secretary. Now, she is the secretary for the Coldwater Eagles.
"It keeps me busy," Stout said.
Donna Gehm, 69, Celina, another line dancer, said she likes the garage sale but she's glad the center brought dancing back.
"I go dancing at the Eagles and the Moose," she said. "They still had it open, but you had to wear a mask."
During the pandemic, she stayed home. She and her husband sell bicycles now.
The center has multiple fan-favorite events, like the garage sale and bingo.
"Bingo has been our biggest (event)," Green said. "We were getting up to about 70 people and now, unfortunately, with the delta variant beginning to spread, we needed to ensure that we could space people out better, so we've walked those numbers back to 50. Part of those numbers were grandparents (who) were bringing their grandchildren they were babysitting. It was really exciting just to see that people felt comfortable."
Denis Gasson, 78, from the Otterbein St. Marys SeniorLife Community, said he kept busy during the senior center's closure by playing bridge online and going on eBay.
"I had a hobby," said Gasson, who also line dances at the center."I'm on eBay and I'm on the computer quite a bit (with) different business sites, sports sites and playing bridge online so you're with other people, communicating. For people who didn't have a hobby, it would have been a real you-know-what."
Before retiring, he was self-employed. He taught high school for 11 years and had rental properties in St. Marys and Lima.
People need to do something physically and mentally after they retire, Gasson said.
"(Line dancing) gives me physical activity and (my) mental activity is play(ing) bridge," he said. "You need both of those when you retire."