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Senior center reopens doors to public

The Senior Center of South Pearl River County resumed serving hot lunches in the facility on Monday and will hold its first event in months, a fundraiser garage sale, on Friday.

The center re-opened its physical doors on a limited basis several weeks ago, but as of Monday hours have increased, so the center is opening at 9 a.m. again, and hot lunches will again be available for members at 11:45 a.m. During the start of the pandemic the staff closed the doors but continued to serve meals on a to go and delivery basis.

Visitor numbers have been increasing daily since the center reopened, said Participation Coordinator Kathleen Penton. The center started off with 10 to 12 visitors in a day and as of Tuesday that number increased to about 20 people.

While the center was closed, it was offering frozen meals for pickup or delivery. Approximately 40 people were picking up meals and 10 people were receiving meal deliveries weekly, said Penton. With the center switching back to serving meals in house, pickup and delivery meals will no longer be available.

The garage sale will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday. Cash and checks will be accepted, but debit and credit cards will not. The sale will raise funds for the center.

While the senior center did take a financial hit from being closed, it is doing well financially, said Penton. The senior center has begun serving meals to members of the Rotary Club of Picayune and Picayune Exchange Club again as well, which will also help financially.

Only the line dancing class has restarted for the time being, said Penton. Most of the classes probably will not return until the COVID-19 situation in the state improves, she said.

The center is following COVID-19 safety guidelines, including requiring social distancing and face masks, supplying hand sanitizer and conducting temperature checks. The number of people able to sit together at a table has been reduced for social distancing.

The center has not had any COVID-19 cases reported since it reopened. In the spring, the state health department required senior centers across the state to close to prevent the spread of the virus. Some cases were reported at Picayune’s senior center after doors had already been closed, said Penton.