Eddie Fields pulled out all the stops for Senior Appreciation Day at the Port St. Joe Seniors Center – bright decorations, hula dancers, live music, star-shaped balloons.
“It’s important that they feel appreciated,” he said. “And it’s important that we show them that the senior center will be there to celebrate them and to help them when they need it.”
Fields, who served on the Area Agency Board that oversaw Senior Centers in 16 counties for 16 years, took over as the director of the Gulf County Senior Citizens Association about a month ago, coming out of retirement to do so.
The appreciation day is one of several plans he has to reinvigorate the Port St. Joe Senior Center, located off of Library Drive.
Over the past decade or so, Fields said, interest and awareness of the Senior Citizens Association and its services have slowly waned. He is hoping that his decades of experience will help him get things back moving on the right track.
“I’m finding out that over all these years, some people didn’t even know we had a senior citizens center,” Fields said.
“We are working on a new staff. I hired three people. We’re trying to get more and more people to come to the center. We’re turning things around… We’re just moving forward and things are already happening.”
And work is being done at the Wewahitchka Senior Citizens Center too, Fields said.
At the Wewahitchka City Commission’s March 24 regular session meeting, Fields and two staff members responsible for overseeing operations on the north end of Gulf County, Reneece Gainer and Robert Farmer, spoke to the board about several concerns they had with the center off of Third Street.
“Right now we are young, but remember, you’re going to get old too,” said Farmer. “And when we get old, we want to have it all set up.”
The trio asked commissioners to address a leak in the ceiling and asked for a status report on the repairs needed for the front doors at the Wewahitchka location as well as advice for getting the center’s oven repaired.
“We want our seniors to feel like we respect them,” Farmer continued. “No matter what decisions they made in the past.”
The Gulf County senior centers offer a variety of services.
“When you come here, you will be able to get all the information you need for whatever you need, whether it be Medicare, Medicaid, meals,” Fields told the commissioners. “We have companions that will come to your house and sit and talk with you. We have homemakers that will go and clean your house up. We have homemade meals that we can take to you – hot meals. You don’t want a cold meal.”
Fields said that with staffing changes, both the Port St. Joe and the Wewahitchka facilities are in need of volunteers, who will help with these operations.
The Gulf County Senior Citizens Association in Port Saint Joe is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST. The Gulf County Senior Citizens Association in Wewahitchka is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. EST.
Those interested in volunteering at either location and those interested in the services that the centers provide are invited to call (850) 229-8466.