PRINCETON — The Dr. Frank P. Giannini Senior Citizen Center here is reopening and resuming normal in-person services and activities on July 1.
“Effective July 1, all centers will return to their normal hours of operation and services prior to the pandemic. All centers will continue to follow any Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, state and/or local guidelines,” according to a Pennyrile Allied Community Services Inc. and Pennyrile Area Development District joint statement.
The two entities are responsible for the oversight of the senior centers in the Pennyrile region.
In addition to a full reopening, the center in Princeton is adding a new senior citizen volunteer component, the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program or RSVP.
This program recruits seniors ages 55 and older to volunteer to work at stations throughout the county.
There are nine senior citizen centers in each of the nine Pennyrile counties.
RSVP was added to Caldwell, Lyon, and Todd counties last month.
Alisha Goodwin is the new RSVP coordinator for Caldwell County.
“The more stations I can get, the more I can have my volunteers active in different areas,” Goodwin said.
On Friday, Goodwin ventured out and visited Princeton businesses, nonprofits, senior apartments, and churches in hopes of securing RSVP stations and volunteers.
The clients will work at stations that include libraries, book stores, clothing stores and churches among others.
In a statement, Goodwin said, “The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program provides the stimulus for adults age 55 and over to use their life experience and skills to answer the call of their neighbors in need. RSVP volunteers help make a difference in their communities.”
RSVP is unique because volunteers are reimbursed for travel expenses, and they’re covered by PACS insurance.
The program extends beyond peers and the elderly community.
According to a PACS statement, “PACS coordinates and collaborates with community organizations such as RSVP to aid in the provision of activities and programs that concentrate on the prevention of crime among the youth.”
RSVP volunteers engage with teenagers and children through Take A Kid Fishing Day, International Festival, and NatureFest. This relationship-building nexus encourages the youth and promotes trust and social skills, according to PACS.
PACS officials said “a sense of worth is reinforced” by volunteering for and with community members.
Considering quarantines, and pandemic-related distress, socializing and communicating are natural mechanisms that renew and restore the human spirit.
In a Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services statement, Dr. Lee Fleisher said, “CMS recognizes the psychological, emotional and physical toll that prolonged isolation and separation from family have taken on nursing home residents and their families.”
Kelly Coleman is the director at the center in Princeton. She said a bible study will be added to programming once normal operations resume.
Southside Baptist Church is sponsoring the activity hour from 10 to 11:30 a.m. on Tuesdays.
Coleman said the curbside meal pick-up program will run through July, but she isn’t certain if it will continue into August.
She said she is delighted to have clients and volunteers back in the building, although she is wary of their return.
“There’s a lot of seniors that are still scared to get out and be around people,” she said.
Vaccinations are steady but still lag behind urban area vaccination rates.
Coleman does not plan to bring in and hire additional staff for the reopening—she still welcomes volunteers.
During the first week of July, Goodwin and Coleman will have a table set up for RSVP registration and information.