GREENBRIER—Marie Layman, Activities Coordinator for the Faulkner County Senior Center of Greenbrier stated they average feeding about 30 seniors every day, Monday through Friday at 11:30 a.m. They also do Meals-on-Wheels to another 25 and cook and serve Twin Groves Senior Center in that Community Center. Almost all of this is done with volunteers, the life-blood of the center.
Their major fund raiser was always a spaghetti supper with very little attendance. This year’s grand event will be a Toast and Roast ceremony honoring Charlene Mason, 93, with a chicken dinner and all the trimmings at the Greenbrier Junior High Cafetorium Sept. 14. Retired Wooster Mayor Mr. “Shug” McMillan will be the Master of Ceremonies while many of her friends pay to speak of antics and activities in her life. Hally (as she likes to be called) was chosen because “she is the sharpest lady here. We call her Miss Socialite,” said Layman. Hally has been coming to the Center for over 20 years, is the Captain of their bean-bag softball team and knows everybody. They are expecting about 200 guests. The Greenbrier EAST students will help serve dinner at 5 p.m. The Roast will begin at 6 p.m. Tickets are $7 with children under 12 free.
“Recycled Teen-agers” is printed on their neon pink T-shirts for their newly formed bean bag baseball team. Their team has only been playing for about a year. They lost 8-6 to the eight-year old team from Benton Senior Center recently but continued to cheer on. There are 12 teams who travel from as far away as Brinkley and Des Arc to compete for honors. Three tosses of a beanbag are allowed for each player into a board twenty feet away. If their beanbag goes into a hole, they must “run” and touch the bases (three chairs set around the room) and score the game just like real baseball. The enthusiasm is high as they cheer, laugh and yell for their team and favorite players.
Other activities include transportation to Conway for dance classes, board games such as cards, Train, dominos, marbles and puzzles, exercises and interactive conversations. One of the long-time guests taught a course in communication and said, “We are losing our ability to communicate, especially our youngsters. The elderly are kind of pushed aside in society so this is an opportunity to keep learning.” Discussions can be a big part of the day for some who come from all kinds of backgrounds.
Layman said, “Just show up if you’d like to come. You are asked to fill out a registration card after hanging out for a few times.” People come from wide backgrounds and are willing to tell about working in fields in Oklahoma, California, and Arkansas following tomato, cotton and strawberry crops when they were young. Some have learned to speak and read English in the center through another volunteer program offered. Railroad engineers, home-makers, parking lot attendants, pastors, principals and teachers, farmers, restaurant owners, retail employees and even a retired Postmaster often attend. “These are well-knowledged, interesting and loving people,” said Layman. “I have the best job in the world.”
Money from the County is often short, so Layman depends on 25 volunteers a week who operate their thrift store, help with activities and deliver Meals-on-Wheels. For medical emergencies, they have a defibrillator in the Center. All employees are trained in CPR and first aid. The City of Greenbrier contributes the building, takes care of the utilities and changes the light bulbs, and even newly paved their parking lot.
“Without them, I don’t know how we would manage,” said Layman. “We are grateful and volunteers are always welcome.”
Activities start at 8:30 am at the Center Monday through Friday. If you think for one minute that it is a bunch of “old fogies” just sitting around, then you have not visited this lively group. Their average age is about 70, from 60’s to 90’s attending. Activities and menu are printed in the Sunday Log Cabin. They are located on Highway 65, next door to Harps Foods. Drop in anytime or call 501-679-3103 to volunteer.