BELTON – A group of woodcarvers – all vaccinated against COVID-19 – began meeting at the Belton Senior Activity Center on Monday after more than a year without being able to meet.
The program is one of several programs that the non-profit center is restarting this week as more elderly residents get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Judy Owens, director of activities at the center, said she was delighted to see the elderly start to socialize again.
Older people, she said, âsuffered during the pandemic from the lack of social interaction. â¦ Some people haven’t seen for a year.
With the increase in local vaccinations, the center this week re-launched its woodcarving, quilting and other arts programs.
“If they weren’t vaccinated, we wouldn’t be doing this,” said Owens, who recently received his own doses of the vaccination.
Activities at the center, 842 Mitchell St., have been scarce since March 2020, when the state closed due to the pandemic.
The six participants in the woodcarving class have all been vaccinated, Owens said. Masks and social distancing are still encouraged at the center, but small groups of vaccinated seniors can remove their masks for certain classes like line dancing. Hand sanitizer is everywhere, she said.
Other activities will start soon, Owens said. A Bible study group will begin meeting on Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m., starting May 19. Tai chi classes are scheduled to resume at 10 a.m. on June 7.
Owens said she was still looking for an instructor for an exercise class that would run from 9 a.m. to 9.45 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Bingo, potlucks and dancing are expected to resume later this year, although dates are not set.
Owens said the center will help seniors schedule immunization appointments, as many are confused about scheduling appointments online. âWe can help them,â she said.
The center is helping the elderly with food distributions from 11 a.m. to noon every Friday during the pandemic.
âSome still don’t want to go to the store, others have a hard time ordering groceries online,â Owens said.
The center provides between 50 and 60 bags of food each week. Items include bread, milk, meat, canned foods, canned macaroni and cheese, toilet paper, and other essentials.
Belton City Council has awarded two grants of $ 25,000 – the first approved in November 2020, the second on March 23 – to the senior center for its food distributions, city spokesman Paul Romer said. . Federal funds were provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.
âThe food aid program that has been put in place by the center has been a resounding success,â a report from city staff said.
The second grant will allow the center to continue food distributions throughout the summer, according to the report.
Owens said supporters at the center donated during the pandemic and that she hopes to have a garage sale in the summer.
In the meantime, getting back to normal is the goal.
âWe invite people to come back,â Owens said. âWe welcome everyone. We have people who come from Harker Heights, Moffat, other places come to Belton, so we’re happy when they show up.