The holidays can be a time of struggle for those without family or friends with whom to celebrate. Resources like the Catoosa County Senior Center offer a place for aging adults to find comfort and support.
"So many of the seniors that come into our center have encountered feeling alone because of circumstances beyond their control, and the center gives them the opportunity to share with others and know that others are here and care about them," said site manager Marcia Tucker.
"The group effort, compassion and concern for others is felt as soon as you enter the building."
The staff and volunteers make it a point to share that warmth even when the seniors can't make it to the center, offering a Meals on Wheels program to people who are recovering from surgery or are in poor health.
"Whenever we get information about a client, we set them up to receive meals and a hot lunch," Tucker said. "If there is a spouse, we try to fix them a meal. It takes some of the burden off of the caregivers; they need that support too."
Health limitations aside, the center does all it can to make sure those age 60 and older can take advantage of its services. Every senior has the option to be picked up from his or her home and delivered back each afternoon.
Tucker estimates over 40 people visit the center daily to talk and share stories.
"It gives the seniors a place to come each day, be with other peers and share things in common," she said. "If you're in a hard spot and don't really know what to do, there's people here that have been in your situation who can be that comfort and help."
In addition to offering a place to form friendships over games of pool or the free hot lunch served each day, the center makes it a priority to help seniors keep tabs on their health. There's an on-site exercise room, and the calendar is filled with events like October's Breast Cancer Awareness Month health fair.
In partnership with Memorial Hospital, the fair featured 24 vendor booths offering on-site mammograms, bone density evaluations, blood pressure checks, blood sugar testing, hearing aid battery replacements, flu shots and more to the 100 seniors in attendance.
"It was a great success and we are looking to make it an annual event," Tucker said.
The center is currently focusing on connecting seniors with groups that provide assistance with food and bills.
Still, despite all the resources it offers, Tucker said the center's biggest asset is its caring environment.
"There is a peace here, and that safety you feel invited," she said. "People have commented how when they come in, they feel welcomed. I'm glad that they feel that love and peace here."
She encourages everyone to visit the center at 144 Catoosa Circle in Ringgold during operating hours: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday-Friday.
Contact Dillon Dodson at 423-757-6579.