Where in Highland County can you go to hear live bands, get access to a complete gym, line dance, play pool, bingo, cards and putting golf? Where can you hear live performances like Sinatra Night, Elvis Presley or the Beatles? Where can you experience pancake extravaganzas, monthly Veteran’s Day dinners, or daily meals? Sound too fantastic to believe? Welcome to the Highland County Senior Citizens Center.
My 93-year old father-in-law, a World War II purple heart veteran of the Pacific, used to want to go out to our farm in Berrysville to mow some grass and savor the solitude of our bucolic splendor. That was before he started his daily visits to the Highland County Senior Citizens Center, when daily life for him became more interesting and, alas, more fun.
The center’s director, Mechell Frost, made a tough call, but the right call when she closed down the center at the early signs of thethe new coronavirus pandemic. The priority of saving lives was paramount. Seniors’ lives matter.
The rich program of activities provided by the senior center is sorely missed. For a generation that grew up and thrived in a digital-free environment, the solitude of social distancing is hard. For this generation, social interaction was always the antidote for boredom. These troubled times call for alternative, but familiar, remedies. Letters and phone calls are a good way to stay in touch. Nothing sparks light and life in this post-World War II generation than a plain old letter from a grandchild, or a simple phone call from a son, daughter or neighbor to see how they’re doing.
Let us not forget, during this temporary closure, what a gem the Highland County Senior Citizens Center is, and why it is such a magical place for seniors who love entertainment and cherish companionship. Our household can attest to the inverse of this. My father-in-law can hardly wait for the grass to grow out at the farm so that he can ride his little John Deere tractor all the way to the reopening of the Highland County Senior Citizens Center.
While we wait at social distance for treatments and a vaccine for this cruel virus that has unfairly taken so many of our seniors, let us not forget the heroic organization that serves our seniors, temporarily sidelined, but still in plain sight in our county.
Bill Sims is a Hillsboro resident, an author, and with his wife runs a small farm in Berrysville. He is a former educator, executive and foundation president.