MJ senior center

Mid-Cumberland Meals on Wheels volunteers Gregg and Kerry Kopazna leave the Mt. Juliet Senior Activity Center to deliver meals to Center members. SUBMITTED

One of Mt. Juliet’s more vulnerable and isolated population will have to wait longer to socialize at its senior citizen center.

The Mt. Juliet Senior Activity Center will remain closed through Sept. 30 after Gov. Bill Lee extended the State of Emergency Executive Order No. 59 on Aug. 29. The center’s staff had planned to reopen on Sept. 1. The facility has been closed since mid-March.

A spokesman for the governor had not responded to requests for comments about keeping the senior centers closed.

Currently, the Mid-Cumberland Meals on Wheels program continues to deliver food to some of their center’s 471 members. Mid-Cumberland Meals on Wheels previously provided lunch to members in the building, Mt. Juliet Senior Activity Center Director Valissa Saindon said.

“They have told us that has been put off at least until January,” she said. “But they are still delivering some meals. The recipient list for these has grown two-fold. We called people who normally came for lunch at the center to see if they needed lunch delivered.”

Mid-Cumberland Meals on Wheels delivers hot and cold two-day meals on Mondays and Wednesdays and one cold meal on Fridays.

Although a drive-through for meals is not held every day, recently about 80 members arrived in their cars for hot dogs and lunch items.

The Center holds Tai Chi Zoom classes on Zoom. Saindon said Center staff recently conducted a Pandemic Picnic Parade.

Saindon said when the Center finally gets the go-ahead to reopen it will have different hours (Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.), smaller groups and take temperature and screen members before they enter the building.

Also, the group size for Tai Chi and yoga classes will be cut in half.

The Center’s classes in knitting and crochet, ukulele, Bible study, art and quilting will have social distancing and reduced-sized groups when it reopens.

Center staff has already made copies of Bingo cards so they won’t be reused.

Saindon said there has not been a reduction of staff because of the temporary closure. There are two fulltime and three part-time employees.

“We want to keep our seniors safe,” Saindon said. “We would hate to reopen prematurely. It is sad, many of our member are isolated every single day. This is a threat to our seniors as well.”

Saindon said it is important to reach out and keep in contact with the Center’s elderly members.

“We make welfare calls every day and try throughout the week to reach everyone,” she said. “Because depression can set in with isolation. We are our members’ family. Many don’t have family nearby.”

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