Senior Citizens Club celebrates 50th anniversary
When nearly 60 members of the Bethel Senior Citizens Club gathered recently at the Bethel Inn for their annual Christmas luncheon, they marked the organization’s 50th year.
“It’s our 50th anniversary,” said President Caroline Gould, “and that makes this holiday event extra special.”
The Club was founded by 23 members in May, 1962, “as a social, political, service and educational organization.” Gould praised the wisdom of the founding members whose ability to look at the big picture finds the organization still following the goals set forth 50 years ago.
“Names of founding members are still well known by the community,” said Gould. They include Florence Emery, Gladys Cross, Maude Hunt, Thirzah Gibson, Mable Robertson, Maggie Lowell, Sarah Stevens, Sylvia Conroy, Stella Moore, Myrtle Lapham, Minnie Wilson, Charles Hayward, Pearl Tibbetts, Emily Saunders, Jane Kneeland, Mary Ladd, Norman Greig, Tom Brown, Gertie Bartlett, Doris Lord, Eva Brown, Mel Valentine and Barbara Douglass. Douglass is the only living member of this troupe. She now lives with her daughter in New Hampshire.
Gould said today’s membership stands at 82. “We continue to offer seniors an opportunity to socialize and participate in interesting activities, keep up to date on health care and political issues affecting them, and enjoy summer and fall field trips,” she said.
Barb Dion, who attended the luncheon with the Senior College members, became the newest member of the Senior Citizens. She said she has always wanted to join and meet a new group of people and the invitation gave her the opportunity. She added, “I see the Senior Citizens meeting as a very effective community-building activity.”
Fran Head, vice president, also serves as program chair, assisted by Rebecca Keen and Sandra Gunther.
Head said the club had several speakers over the past year to keep members updated. Jarrod Crockett spoke on issues in the legislature that affect seniors. Sheriff Wayne Gallant talked about safety for seniors, and gave out special emergency whistles that produce a loud, shrill sound. Robert Goldman informed the members about supplemental insurance for Medicare Part B.
Another speaker, Roberta Broomhall from the Bethel Ambulance Service, is well-known to club members as she attends all meetings to be available to take and record blood pressures. This is a service of the Ambulance Service’s community wellness program.
Broomhall talked about signs and symptoms of a stroke and heart attack. She gave members refrigerator magnets bearing this important information. She also reminded them to be sure their house numbers are displayed prominently.
“We also had three interesting field trips this year,” said Head.
They included a trip to Portland to board the Casco Bay Lines for their mail delivery run around Casco Bay islands; a foliage trip to Rangeley; and a trip to the Maine State Museum, where members were especially interested in the display of the Bethel community provided by the Bethel Historical Society.
The Senior Citizens are also interested in collaborating with other groups. This fall they were invited to a special matinee performance of the Senior College Players Christmas plays. In turn, Senior College members were invited to the Christmas luncheon.
“We’re hoping to have similar invitational opportunities in the future,” said Head, who coordinated this effort with Roberta Taylor from Western Mountains Senior College. Both Head and Gould are members of the planning committee for the Senior College’s 10th anniversary spring program, which will involve the Senior Citizens.
The club is also collaborating with Crescent Park School on a new volunteer program that just started earlier this month. The program involves seniors going to the school on Tuesday and Thursday mornings to listen to children read out loud. This is a one-to-one program between a volunteer and a student from Grades Two through Five. The goal is to help students develop more confidence in their reading skills. Principal Levi Brown coordinates the program and directs volunteers to teachers who have requested this help.
“Both teachers and students are excited about the program,” said Head.
More volunteers are welcome. Anyone interested in more information on the program or the club may contact Gould at 824-3226.