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Senior Center reopens on limited basis

A few people played cards and drank coffee at the Senior Center of South Pearl River County Wednesday morning for the first time since spring of this year.

The center has been closed for months due to the pandemic, but this week it reopened on a part time basis, with hours from 9 a.m. to noon.

Face masks are required in the building and temperatures are taken at the door. Anyone feeling sick, coughing, sneezing or running a fever is asked to stay home.

The center is open for some social activities like beanbag baseball, bingo, cards and line dancing. Executive director David Sykes said regulars are not rushing back, because they are being cautious. Older adults are at an increased risk for developing severe illness from COVID-19.

Being closed has had an impact on the community the center serves and on the center’s ability to fundraise and receive funds.

“It really affects the seniors themselves, because of anxiety and lack of social connections,” said Sykes.

Although the building has been closed, the center continued to provide free meals via curbside pickup and delivery. The center has been distributing more meals since the pandemic began than before COVID-19 forced staff to close the doors.

The center is not restarting in person meal service yet. The Department of Human Services will determine when meal services can transition back to in-person, said Sykes. In the meantime, the center will continue to provide curbside pickup and delivery meals.

While the cost of the food is covered, usually the center also receives grant funding for serving the meals and the kitchen labor involved. Since meals are not being served in person at the center, those grant funds are on hold. The center has also been unable to hold fundraisers.

“Luckily we’re in pretty good financial shape, but after seven or eight months, we’ve taken a hit,” said Sykes.

Staff have still been paid and are still working.