Volunteer Kay Eubanks, left, joined Baconton Mayor Annette Morman and others for the kickoff of the small Mitchell County community’s senior program Tuesday.
BACONTON -- Around two dozen senior citizens were on hand Tuesday for the kickoff of a senior citizens program initiated by Mayor Annette Morman and approved by the Baconton City Commission.
Fulfilling a campaign promise to provide a program that would focus on the needs of the elderly, Morman sought and got volunteer help and private funding for the program that will provide fun and educational activities for senior citizens from around the community.
"This is one of the visions I had for Baconton when I decided to run for mayor," Morman said Tuesday. "There's been a group in the community meeting since July 5 to come up with ideas for scheduling and funding. There were no funds or grants available for the program, so we put the word out in the community.
"What you see here today is the community responding."
Volunteers and supporters were on hand Tuesday to facilitate fun and games (like Bingo), to teach exercise, nutrition and Bible classes, and to prepare and serve a healthy meal for the seniors.
"I'm always interested in learning new things and doing new things," Glennelle Marcus said of taking part in the program. "It's a good way to keep me feeling younger and to keep my mind intact. This is just a glorious thing for senior citizens of our community, a true blessing."
Michael Bryant, a field representative with U.S. Congressman Sanford Bishop's office, was on hand for the program dedication, and he praised Morman for her energy.
"I can't speak for the past of this community, but I know with the energy Mayor Morman has the citizens are pleased to have her at the helm," Bryant said. "She's the kind of person who, once she makes up her mind, she makes whatever she's working on a reality.
"I will share with (Bishop) the spirit that allowed this community to move forward with this program despite a lack of funding."
Morman said seniors in the area will be welcome to take part in the program on Tuesdays and Fridays at Baconton's City Hall until a permanent senior center is available. She said each 9 a.m.-1 p.m. session will include games, arts and crafts, educational programs and nutritious meals.
"We've got volunteers who have planned meals for this month, and we hope others will want to get involved when they see what we're doing," the mayor said. "We're planning field trips to movies, to the mall and to restaurants. We want to build on the excitement surrounding the program."
Geraldine West Hudley, a former educator and now "transitioned" U.S. Department of Agriculture "Strike Force" work initiative official, said her team is working to help improve "rising communities" like Baconton.
"We assisted with the student garden at (newly opened) North Mitchell County Elementary School, that we hope to springboard into a community garden that will benefit this senior program," Hudley said. "This is a wonderful cross-generational opportunity that the mayor has embraced."
Baconton Commissioners Betty Ritchie, Dorothy Mormon and Elizabeth Williams, who were on hand for Tuesday's kickoff, expressed pleasure at seeing senior citizens becoming active.
"Sometimes we tend to forget about our seniors and how important it is for them to stay active," Williams said. "This is just something that our community needed, and when there was no funding available, we didn't let that stop us. It doesn't take a lot of money when you have volunteers and officials who get actively involved."
Ritchie, who retired after a 20-year career in the U.S. Army and moved to Baconton just three years ago, said she's impressed with the can-do attitude of the community.
"I thought I'd moved to Mayberry when I first got here," she said. "But what I found is an overall attitude that we can make things happen. It starts with the mayor, who obviously has a lot up her sleeve. It makes you want to be involved when someone like her is so accessible and giving of herself."
Dorothy Morman, the mayor's aunt, said the senior program is just one of many planned programs the mayor and commission are working to make reality.
"We're in the process of getting a new library, of starting a youth program, of putting together a beautification plan," she said. "This mayor and this commission are determined to make these things happen.
"There hasn't been this much excitement around here in a long time."