Above: From left, Kathy Stead, Cam Craybas and Irene Boutote at lunch at Swift Community Center last week. Photos from the EG Senior Center.
The East Greenwich Senior Center is open for business
The dining room at Swift Community Center is once again abuzz with conversation at noontime weekdays, now that the Senior Services hot lunch program has resumed for in-person dining last week. The program shut down in March 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For participants like Carol Dubeau, the return of the in-person lunch program is “wonderful,” she said. “The grab & go lunches were OK but it’s nothing like a hot meal with friends…. that I don’t have to cook!”
Senior Services offered grab & go lunches throughout the pandemic – even delivering them in some cases. It was a vital service especially early on when there were so many questions about the virus.
Susan Birch can only attend the lunches during the summer, when she is off from her school district job. Birch said the food was good and it was nice to see people.
Earl Henry said it’s important to get out and spend time with others. “It’s a very good meal for $3,” he added.
Mario Testoni has been a widower for 31 years, which prompted him to learn to cook. “I didn’t cook hamburgers,” he said. “I cooked real meals.” He too comes to the lunch program for the camaraderie.
Meal site coordinator Judy Karam calls working at Swift her “dream job,” after many years in retail. Her family owned a restaurant when she was growing up, but she also sees how the program is important beyond the food. “It’s building bridges in the community,” she said.
Senior Services Director Charlotte Markey said it was nice to see people back for lunch. “We try to talk to everybody and make everybody feel welcome.”
The meal program – all the Senior Center programs, in fact – are open to those 55 and older and those with disabilities. The suggested donation for lunch is $3 and reservations are very strongly encouraged so there is enough food for everyone. (Make a reservation by calling Judy at (401) 886-8669, ext. 4.
“I waited a very long time” for the lunch program to resume, said Senior Services board member Pat Pollock. “The food is always good.”
Pollock said she just hoped more “younger seniors” would join the center, noting the “wonderful job” that’s been done by Director Markey.
At 95, Charlotte Dumas may not be one of Pollock’s younger seniors but her energy and enthusiasm belie her age. Her secret? Walking every day – she always walks to and from Swift, turning down rides and meal deliveries. And her bedroom is on the third floor. Doesn’t believe in air conditioning either – plenty of fans though.
Dumas was thrilled with the resumption of in-person events at Swift.
“Everyone’s smiling when you come in now,” she said.
You can learn about everything the center has to offer here: EG Senior Center July 2021 Newletter.