By Everett Brazil, III
The Newkirk herald Journal
NEWKIRK — The Newkirk Senior Citizens Center has long served as a haven for the community’s elderly citizens, a place to get out of the house and enjoy a meal in fellowship with each other, as well as a chance to participate in the many other activities the center supports. To keep the Seniors safe and healthy, the Center is now closed until April 30, as the city is on lock down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The city of Newkirk is hard at work to implement a new plan to continue food and other activities for the seniors as a way a make sure they are taken care of.
Kay County saw its first COVID-19 infection on Monday, March 16, leading the city of Newkirk to issue an emergency declaration, which includes a lockdown of all city facilitates and closing the Newkirk Public Library and Senior Center until April 30. The city has been working diligently on how to continue feeding those who rely on the Center for support.
“What we’re trying to do is have the Senior Center make meals, and people can pick them up at the back door,” said Mayor Brian Hobbs.
The Senior Center has received donations from Star Gas Co., and are coordinating with Wheatheart Nutrition Center to provide food at the Senior Center, which can be distributed at the facility itself.
“Seniors are supposed to stay at home,” said City Manager Jane Thomas. “The Wheatheart Nutrition Center is receiving a box with about two weeks of food, and Serena Welch (Center director) is keeping in contact with the seniors, and if they need something, she takes it to them.”
They can also contact the Senior Center about anything they may need.
Senior Center representatives will not enter the home to deliver the food items to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Representatives will also be creating care packs that are intended to stimulate mental health to and to keep seniors busy in the absence of activities at the facility. They are working with Marie Trenary of the Ponca City Senior Center to provide the activities.
“She’s making a mental stimulus packet, and were going to put out packets with crossword puzzles, word searches, coloring maps,” Welch said. “In the coming weeks, we’ll be including brochures with tips such as how to keep busy. We don’t want them to fall into a depression because they are home.”
Between the food, puzzles and other outreach, the activities are a way to keep the citizens stay safe and healthy during the pandemic.
“We do whatever we can for them, because we’re Newkirk, and that is what we do,” Welch said. “This is what the Senior Center is for, to get them out of their homes so they are not alone. This is very trying time to not be able to get out of the home and get what you need. I would do anything for them at any given time.”
For more information, leave a message at the center, at (580) 362-1409, or contact Welch directly at (405) 213-5360.