By Lou Ann Pioli
Coordinator, Essex Area Senior Center

During the four years that I’ve had the privilege and pleasure of working with our 50+ population at the Essex Area Senior Center, I’ve received a lot of praise for the growth and warm environment that has been nurtured here. While I take great pride in our Center and in my work, I am always quick to point out that I have not accomplished this alone. At the heart of this wonderful place that so many call their second home are dozens of volunteers who give selflessly each day for the good of the seniors we serve. I’m not sure people understand all that is involved with running a successful senior center.

Take Brenda, for example. Of the 710 volunteer hours logged from April to September of this year, 480 of them belonged to Brenda. She’s here nearly every day, chipping in with just about every facet of the center, and then some. Besides cleaning and organizing, setting up for programs, running our weekly Bingo program, helping with Wednesday meals, sending birthday cards to every one of our 300-plus members, coordinating trips with me and shopping for center needs, folks joke that the kitchen here is “Brenda’s kitchen,” where she is often found cleaning, straightening cupboards, making coffee and tea for folks, and even scrubbing the refrigerator!

Then there’s Randy, who, before he was injured in a fall, did a lot of the “bull” work, schlepping tables and climbing ladders to hang decorations for every event and season. He also took over our monthly (or more) Costco runs to keep us in supplies.

Liz heads our Silent Auction Committee and works diligently year after year to raise money for our Center.

Anne-Marie leads the Craft Fest Committee, another annual fund-raiser so important to the Center. She also chairs our Knitting and Crocheting group, and along with Martha, June, Joan, Doug, Darquise, Jeannine and Jacki creates beautiful items to sell at our Craft Fest to benefit the Center.

Sandi leads our ever popular weekly Seated Yoga class and Book Club. Moe is my “right hand man”, setting up/breaking down tables, bringing in the flag, and teaching/leading Cribbage.

Billie leads our Seated Tai Chi program. Maddie, Nancy, Martha, Jeannine, Randy and Cathy regularly call Bingo. Dick heads up Duplicate Bridge. Connie teaches Mah Jongg lessons, and she and Karen R. lead Mexican Train Dominoes. Chris makes sure our ice-cube trays are always filled. Anne leads our Mah Jongg Tournaments. Connie, Jeannine, Mike and Polly, Karen R., June, Karen M. and Monica are quick to volunteer for events and anything else that is needed, as well as opening/closing or covering the Center when I can’t be here.

Betty G. is a constant for our Wednesday meals to set up, serve and clean up. She’s often joined by Jeff and Gloria and various volunteers from area churches.

Then, in addition to those mentioned above, there are all the other folks who willingly donate their time and energy on our many committees: Dottie, Betty P., Lila, Joyce, Doug, Beverly, Judy, Linda, Jean, JoAnn, Rosie, Ernie, and Rose D. We can’t forget our members, too numerous to list, who offer to bake/cook for our events or who donate items to the Center or for our auctions, or who just show up to make friends, play, welcome newcomers, and laugh, adding so much to the “family” we’ve created here. There are so many amazing seniors who make this Center what it is. It should not come as any surprise that I refer to them as “the heartbeat of the Center, keeping it alive and vibrant.” If you’ve never visited us, please do stop in. We’d love to have you!

A few reminders: Our silent auction began Monday, Oct. 29 and runs through Saturday, Nov. 10. Open to the public. Bidding takes place Monday through Friday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and Saturday, Nov. 10 from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. The annual Five Corners Fall Craft Fest is November 10 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Visit the Senior Center, First Congregational Church, Holy Family Church and St. James Church for a wide array of creative vendors and food.

The center will be closed on Friday, Nov. 9 in order to set up for the Craft Fest. The annual Christmas Luncheon for Essex seniors and members of the Senior Center sponsored by the Essex Knights of Columbus and Rotary will be Wednesday, Dec. 5 at noon. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at the center during regular business hours.

Essex Area Senior Center is located at 2 Lincoln Street at the Five Corners. Please call 876-5087 for more information or visit our website, www.essexvtseniors.org.