Senior Connection discounting memberships in January

Published 4:24 pm Thursday, January 12, 2023

By Carey Reeder| Staff Writer

Senior Connection in Clanton is having a membership drive throughout the month of January with discounted rates to bring in new senior members from the communities of Chilton County. The original membership of $20 is half off and is available for both new members and membership renewals. The special offer is available until Jan. 27 at noon, and those interested can come by Senior Connection Monday-Friday between 8 a.m.-2 p.m. to get their discounted membership.

“Seniors need a social outlet. Yes, you can go to church, and you have family … After those children leave the house, they all have their own lives, and it is tough to see them a lot,” Martha Thornburgh, a member of the Senior Connection committee, said. “We want to encourage new people to develop relationships with others here.”

Senior Connection provides personal enrichment programs for people ages 55 and older. The programs include recreation activities, health and wellness maintenance, retirement practices, volunteer services and travel opportunities.

Senior Connection coordinator Vanessa McKinney and the 12-person committee go above and beyond to make seniors in Chilton County feel comfortable in their facility. Lunch is served each day, and members pay only $2 to eat with their peers. Exercise programs happen each morning and health and wellness programs visit Senior Connection each month to talk with the members about how they can better take care of themselves.

“We want you to be happy, we want you to be healthy,” Thornburgh said. “We are trying to keep people interested in taking care of themselves.”

Thornburgh said about half of the members in Senior Connection are from out of town, but may have lived in Chilton County in the past. Seniors make up a large portion of the demographic in Chilton County, and Thornburgh said the Senior Connection offers a place where people can find similar interests as them.

Thornburgh has been at Senior Connection since 2017 and said they are still trying to get their membership numbers back up after the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Thornburgh said during the pandemic, seniors in Chilton County had nowhere safe to go. Her and a few other members provided meals and they took them to members who were not prepared to venture outside.

“We knew seniors had no place to go that was a safe haven,” Thornburgh said. “We wanted to open back up, but we made it so guideline driven that it would be a safe place for everyone.”

Members were required to wear masks inside, a sanitizing station was outside the front door, temperatures of members were checked each day and records of who was coming in and out of the facility were kept.

“We wanted to take every step to ensure that we were being safe,” Thornburgh said. “At first, everyone was apprehensive to come out, but they quickly realized it was a safe haven, and it has been building back up since then.”

Two members, Janice Wilson and Lucy Sanders, formed a close bond because of Senior Connection. Wilson and Sanders met each other while doing artwork at Senior Connection. Wilson had a few local family members who passed away, and people encouraged her to join Senior Connection to meet new people.

“Within a short amount of time you get to meet people, and me and Lucy hit it off,” Wilson said. “These are very good people here, and no one here is alone. You can get stranded because everyone around you passed away or other things … Not here, this has been an excellent place. You get to meet people from all over … You end up like family, and people here care about you. It is a wonderful place to come, and we love it. If you do not fit in, it is because you do not want to fit in.”

Wilson and Sanders now do magic acts together, something they were both interested in, and have formed a friendship that now goes deeper. The two were doing a genealogy activity and found out they are distant family members.

“What I enjoy the most is I now have an adopted sister,” Sanders said. “In 2020, my real sister passed away … Janice has so much in common with her, and it has been a wonderful thing.”

Those interested in a discounted membership at Senior Connection can stop by their facility at 304 Park Plaza in Clanton on any day before Jan. 27 at noon. $20 memberships are available all year for Senior Connection.

“You may come in as strangers, but you will leave as friends.” Wilson said.