14th Street distributes hygiene bags for senior citizens.

Carla Wolmack prepares bags

Hygiene bags were packed and distributed to area seniors on Wednesday.

PORTSMOUTH — The 14th Street Community Center provided personal hygiene bags for local senior citizens this week as an extension of their S.M.A.R.T. program Wednesday.

The 14th Street Community Center has been a place to go when you are in need for many years. The community center not only provides programs for the youth of the community, but the outreach extends to community members of all ages. Many of the community center’s staff and volunteers are seniors themselves. With the spread of COVID-19 and the stay at home order, the seniors at the community center decided to take meals and love out into their community. They carry on the traditions of their elders by making sure the most vulnerable members of the village are cared for.

The African proverb, “it takes a village to raise a child” means that an entire community of people must interact with children for those children to experience and grow in a safe and healthy environment. The villager’s lookout for the children. We are now looking out for our elders as the table are turning, they raised us to grow strong teeth and now we must take care of them so that their hair may grow as white as snow.

The recent changes in our country have created hardships for our seniors. They are the ones who are most vulnerable to succumb to the COVID-19 pandemic. Seniors are at a much higher risk; the seniors at the community center were concerned about their peers. Many in the community were not as able-bodied or do not have as many resources as they should. They wanted to make sure that all the seniors in the community felt safe, provided for, and loved during this confusing and difficult time. Director Maxine Malone thought it would be a great service to the community, to make sure the seniors who needed it would have a hot meal to eat. Thus the program, S.M.A.R.T. (Smart Meals Arriving in real time with love), was born.

The S.M.A.R.T. program takes a holistic approach by providing both a nutritious meal for the body and readings for the mind and soul. Each Wednesday, Maxine Malone cooks the food and the seniors and volunteers come together at the community center to assemble and deliver the meals consisting of a meat, potato, vegetable, fruit and dessert for over 100 seniors. They work so hard, pouring out the love from their heart to make sure the ones that are not able to get out are able to eat a healthy, hot meal. They give with such enthusiasm that they go above and beyond what is asked of them. Not only do they assemble the meals and deliver them, to help keep our seniors home in these times of uncertainty. They help with the funding, the ministering of God’s word, providing them with activities to keep them busy, and making sure that their brothers and sisters have the ability to eat a good, wholesome meal and learn to be healthier people as a result.

As part of the S.M.A.R.T. program this week, the community center provided a personal hygiene kit with the meals they delivered. Each hygiene bag contained hand sanitizer, a medical-grade mask, hand soap, bar and body soap, and facial tissue. These hygiene packs were provided by a two-thousand dollar Community Resilience Grant through ServeOhio. The face masks were provided by Path Integrated health care while promotional bags were donated by Kevin Smith at US Bank and Dorlese Green at Eagle Loan of Wheelersburg.

As always, The Word is provided by Living Faith Temple to give seniors inspirational substance to read along with the nutritional sustenance. Included with the meals weekly is a simple activity that they can do at home. Recently, they included A History Of Quilt Patterns along with a “Design Your Own Quilt Square” drawing sheet to stimulate the seniors mentally and creatively while inviting them to participate in a community art project. The program also tries to educate them on living a heart-healthy life. We provide hand-outs with information from Johns Hopkins Medicine, and also SOMC has provided information to keep them updated on how they can stay safe through this pandemic.

The 14th Street Community Center would like to thank their senior community volunteers for helping with the health information, the activities provided, spreading The Word, donating money, and assembling and delivering meals! Seniors feeding Seniors!

The 14th Street Community Center thanks Carmen and Jan Carr, Norman and Cynthia Cave, Jewell Collins, Major Connally, Anna Davis, Sharon Davis, Irene Dickey, Roxanne Ferguson, Yolanda Johnson, Yvette Jordan, Jeanette Langford, Maxine Malone, Michael and Kathy Malone, Toshia Malone, Mary Nelson, Evangeline Parker, Ryan Parker, pastor Mike Queen and Karen Queen, Merle Sandford, Klaire Smith, Dorothy Taylor, Emily Cobb-Thomas, Andrea Young, Arthur Langford III, Elsie Shabazz, Marily Clay, Vivea Clay, Angelique Clay, Edgar Brown, Marureen Cadogan and Living Faith Temple for all of the generous donations and for making and delivering the meals! Each person has contributed in their own way and have been a blessing to S.M.A.R.T.

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