Keeping Community | Jackson Corps Senior Citizen Program
The Salvation Army of Jackson Corps hosts a year-round Senior Citizens Program where community members over 65-years meet for ministry, arts and crafts, and socialize. The program runs Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, from 9 AM – 1 PM. Different activities are offered, such as health and nutrition classes, daily devotions, community gym, and workout classes. Representatives from companies throughout the community also come to speak with seniors to keep them abreast about life skills and what’s going on around Jackson. Examples of companies that visit are health insurance representatives, funeral home directors, and brokers. Seniors participate in many activities during each program session and end the day with snacks and lunch. Seniors also have opportunities to participate in different Salvation Army programs to share their talents.
“This program was designed for seniors. We take field trips, host programs, and many other activities. Right now, we have a partnership with Comcast, so we’re able to provide internet essentials to our seniors. We have a virtual session coming up where we will do our first Zoom session with the seniors to try to help them better navigate the computer and get them to be more comfortable,” Jackson Corps Community Center Director, Nita Humphrey.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have not been able to have the program on-site, so I’ve been checking on seniors to see if they need anything. We also do biweekly devotional conference calls to help with their spiritual growth. We have made it where we are available. They have my cell. Some of them call and need immediate assistance. Anything that they need, we are there to make sure that they are taken care of during this time,” Humphrey added.
The COVID-19 pandemic changed how the program operates, but The Salvation Army and members of the program have stayed in touch throughout the past year in hopes of maintaining a sense of community. A few of the Senior Citizen Program members have been hospitalized, or in nursing homes, so Humphrey and officers go to them to provide community care. They take items that the seniors may need and attend funerals when members pass away. Humphrey contacts families on behalf of the Army to see if they need anything.
“We do the best that we can to make sure that we are there for them. And making sure they’re okay throughout their daily lives,” Humphrey added.
Ms. Inez Rushing is one of the seniors who keeps in touch with members of the program.
“I’ve spoken with everyone individually. They tell me they miss The Salvation Army and wish we were back. Being unable to meet with our group or family members has been really hard on us,” Rushing shared.
“We’ve stayed creative and keep in touch with each other. This is the reason we’re part of the Senior Citizens Program; to meet and form a community within our age group.
What’s been most missed is in-person devotions and gym class. One of the seniors uses her local Kroger to work out. She uses a buggy for support and walks around the entire store for exercise. Other members have taken to walking around their homes and yards as their source of physical activity.
“The Salvation Army has helped me a lot. First thing in the mornings, we’d have devotion, prayer, and scripture reading. I like doing that. Sometimes we have a guest speaker and other times we have a chance to go to the gym. That helps strengthen my lungs because I have certain respiratory issues. Everything is organized. We have lunch after our activities, and we have recognized birthdays every three months. I’ve also had the opportunity to participate in planning the Christmas program, which I enjoy a lot,” Edna Rhodes, member of the Senior Citizens Program.
Isolation Amid A Pandemic
Many seniors spent their quarantine with family to avoid complete isolation. One member has an 82-year-old aunt who she’s taking care of during the pandemic. She’s able to assist her aunt, and her aunt keeps her company. The Salvation Army of Jackson’s Senior Program hosted a weekly devotion throughout the pandemic to ensure seniors don’t feel completely isolated or forgotten.
“We’re all retired, and most of us don’t have many places to go. I’ve missed gathering; talking to each other. I miss the food,” Rushing said.
“We’re anxious to return. We’ve kept in touch. We’ve shared phone numbers and have a great line of communication. We call ourselves The Salvation Army Senior Citizens Family,” Rushing added.
The Seniors began meeting in person on January 11, 2021. Social distancing is in place, and masks are required.