Whether seniors live alone or not, the local senior center is the perfect place to spend their days. Superintendent Merlinda Hill said the Thomson-McDuffie Senior Center has 200 members, and 50 to 60 of them are there on a daily basis.
"It's just good for socializing, having friends. It keeps them from sitting home alone with nothing to do," Ms. Hill said. "Some get depressed after they retire and have nothing to do when they're used to going to work. They don't even want to get dressed, so this motivates them."
They don't just sit around at the senior center, either. Weekly activities at the center include ceramics, crafts, art, computer and exercise classes, workshops, line dancing, choir, Bingo and Wii bowling.
The center also has exercise equipment and a pool table, air hockey table, skee ball machine, checkers and dart boards for use anytime.
"It's really good programs here, and a lot of activities and a lot of trips," said Mary Riverea, a Dearing resident who is a member and regular at the center. "The staff makes sure we have activities to keep us occupied. I love it. The people that work here are so nice. I've heard that mixing with other people makes you live longer, so this is good. I have so many friends here."
Ms. Riverea said she especially enjoyed the trip to go strawberry picking in the spring and fishing this summer.
Ms. Hill said that even though economic times are bad, the senior center operates on grants and is able to offer regular monthly trips and activities.
"We schedule things according to participation and what people want," she said. "We take lots of trips. The last trip, we went to the Blue Willow Inn, and we had to take two buses because so many people ended up going."
Some people come just for one particular activity, while others come to spend the entire day, Ms. Hill said. She said those who line dance or sing in the choir also go out into the community and perform at various functions.
Some of the items made during the craft, ceramic and art classes are sold at the center's "Grandma's Craft Store," with proceeds benefiting the activities within the center.
One resident, Lewis Floyd from the Happy Valley Community, said the center's classes are helping him keep up with the younger generation. Mr. Floyd said he and his wife visit the center every week.
"We take computer classes, walk on the treadmill and take exercise classes," he said. "Our children bought us a computer, and I told them we would never learn how to use it, but we are trying. It's like trying to teach an old dog new tricks."
Lunch is provided daily at the center along with free legal services. All activities and membership are free.
Membership is open to anyone who is 50 years or older.
Registration must be filled out so the center has emergency contact information for each member.
The center is located at 304 Greenway Street, in the old Coca-Cola Bottling Plant across from the health department. Call (706) 595-7502 for more information.