ST. PETERSBURG – You’re never too old to have a good time, and the 60 and older crowd showed they still like to party at a Valentine’s Day luncheon held at the Enoch Davis Center in their honor.
With a live jazz band and a catered home cooked meal, the folks who participate in the Neighborly Senior Dining program had a Valentine’s Day to remember.
This special day was the brainchild of Linda Watson, whose father attends the Senior Dining program. For a few years, she would fulfill her monthly Order of the Eastern Star charity duties by providing a luncheon for the seniors, but had moved on to other projects.
When the director of the program asked her to come back, she thought Valentine’s Day would be the perfect day to start her work up again.
“I wanted to do something special for them because they really don’t get an opportunity to do a lot of stuff,” said Watson.
She and her volunteer spent the night cooking all the food that included turkey and stuffing, collard greens, sweet potatoes, cabbage and a myriad of desserts.
Watson had a set program planned but decided to go with the flow.
“God didn’t want me to use that program,” she said. “I didn’t utilize the program, I utilized the senior citizens.”
The seniors were asked to take the microphone and show the audience what they had, and that is exactly what they did. They sang as if they were auditioning for American Idol.
Watson has been giving back to her community for more than 30 years. She explained that her grandmother used to live in Graham Park apartments and when Webb’s City was closed down, many of the seniors were left without a way to get food.
“I started going to different food pantries collecting food and I would distribute it to the residents,” she said.
When the Order of the Eastern Star, a Masonic appendant body open to both men and women, saw her good works in the community, they invited her to join their organization.
“I just do this just because,” she said. “I want to give back.”
Most of the seniors in attendance participate in the Neighborly Senior Dining program, which is a free government funded program located at several centers throughout Pinellas County.
Along with a hot, nutritious meal, Neighborly offers participants informational programs, cooking demonstrations, entertainment and activities. They experience social interaction that is beneficial for their overall health and well being. To participate, you must be at least 60 years old.
The program offers pick up and drop off to the Enoch Davis Center, or if you’d rather stay home they offer Meals on Wheels.
Cheryl Holiday, site coordinator for Neighborly Senior Services said the seniors seem to enjoy the fellowship the program has to offer.
“We had a black history celebration; we do trivia, karaoke and just come up with different things for them to do. We’re also planning a picnic, and have some surprises in store,” she said.
With about 50 seniors now currently in the program housed at Enoch Davis Center, Holiday said they are actively recruiting more.
“A lot of them don’t have a lot of family so this becomes their family,” said Holiday. “That’s why we’re hoping that we can get them to come together. We hope they will become friends and treat each other with love and respect.”
If you’re not too busy between the hours of 11-1 p.m. Monday through Friday and would like to get out of the house and meet new people, please call Holiday at (727) 823-4442 to help get you signed up.