Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Three cheers given to Senior Connection volunteers

Express Staff Writer

Volunteers and seniors gather at the Blaine County Senior Connection for a celebration lunch. Photo by Willy Cook

Weekly, the Blaine County Senior Connection is a beehive of activity, hosting everything from luncheons, music and social events to classes and lectures.

On Friday, April 22, the organization honored their 68 volunteers at a luncheon at the center in Hailey. Among the many things volunteers do for seniors is delivering meals, helping out in the kitchen, running errands, and even playing music.

The average age of the volunteers is around 55, said Brenda Shappee, director of the center. "They give tons of time and energy. I have never had a volunteer who was unwilling to do what's asked."

One volunteer, Leslie Sheehan, started assisting the "meals on wheels" program five years ago. She progressed to driving the van and doing outreach in homes. She is now a paid employee, and is currently filling in for two other employees who are getting their Certified Nurses Assistant degrees.

Lemo Dearing, 69, has been a full-time volunteer for two years. She works four days a week in the kitchen, from 7 a.m. to around 2:30 p.m.

"I just like to do it and be with them," she said while scooping out peas on to proffered plates. "I also cook for bingo and help at the senior center in Carey. Sometimes I volunteer with the Sun Valley Center for the Arts, too. I'm not a volunteer, I'm just here."

Elena Watson, a Russian concert pianist, often plays piano at the center, where her husband Patrick is the cook.

"They teach me American music because I don't know this music," she said. "Today is my first anniversary in Idaho. I moved here (last) April 22 and we got married in the Senior Center on May 22. I like it here."

Though the center is in Hailey, Ketchum's mayor, Ed Simon, sat at a long table with board members of the center. There was a certificate in front of him naming him an outstanding volunteer.

Simon has volunteered at the center since 1981 and has been a member of the board since 1985.

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