Every December, the older adult population gathers at each of the five Senior Services centers in Midland County to enjoy a Christmas dinner with their family and friends. This event is well anticipated, with the planning beginning in early fall and the reservations for guests opening November 1st. It has been an honor and a privilege to be a part of this event for the first time since joining the team. Aside from all the hustle and bustle of planning every detail from the menu to the decorations, the biggest take-away for myself has been watching pure joy spread across the faces of each person as they enter each center. Whether it be the excitement of seeing a familiar friend, the admiration of the beautifully decorated Christmas trees, or the anticipation of winning a prize, it is evident how much this event means to the older adults.
Joy is a term that has been the focus of the nutrition team at Senior Services this holiday season. “The joy is contagious,” states Center Services Manager Nancy Kawiecki. “It is something we want to perpetuate all season long, and it truly describes what it means to be a part of Senior Services, from participants to staff.”
The dedication and partnership with the Midland Area Community Foundation allow this event to be possible, in addition to Midland area service clubs, elementary schools, and area businesses. The service club members volunteer to serve the three-course meal, including salad, entrée, and dessert. Elementary school students illustrate beautiful Christmas pictures and designs on placemats for the older adults to admire. There are also a significant number of Midland area businesses that provide much appreciated financial donations or prizes.
Joy is being present with loved ones, joy is taking a few extra moments to sit and chat with a friend, joy is observing the beauty that lies all around us and being with people that we love. As the decorating goes on, as the menus are assembled, as the reservations are filled, I witness the joy of all involved. I have observed this with other large events; the space can be planned to the tee, but the space changes as soon as the older adults enter the room. The warmth is tangible, and it is truly a joy to see the sincere connection between the people we serve.
We are thrilled to have been able to provide a total of 1,056 hot meals agency wide, including the Meals on Wheels program and center meals. I would like to share the message I have learned this holiday season and challenge you to anticipate, embrace, and spread the joy that is present around us every day—the joy of community.
Featured below are photos and quotes of participants at the Trailside, Geendale, Coleman, Mills, and Sanford centers. Enjoy!
Bill Albe, President of the Trailside Senior Advisory Board
“It brought in a whole new audience to enjoy the food and camaraderie of the Trailside Center. Hopefully, it will lead to a greater awareness of what we have to offer and will enhance those in attendance to come more often.”
“It was a beautiful event with wonderful food, amazing donated gifts and lovely dinner music by Sharon Mortensen. Always the highlight of the year!”
Herta & Ziggy Jaschinsky
“Nothing could have been better than celebrating Christ’s birth with my Sanford Senior Center family.”