As I sit here contemplating what I am going to say and how I am going to say it, it seems to me that growing older is not the piece of cake I thought it would be when I was in my younger years.

As I sit here contemplating what I am going to say and how I am going to say it, it seems to me that growing older is not the piece of cake I thought it would be when I was in my younger years. Then I thought that I would be fully involved in a job until I hit 65 and then I would be totally and completely retired with “nothing to do” and I was going to love that. After working for 50 years (I started at 15), I thought of retirement as not working, which meant just lazing around. However, that wasn’t the case. If you are 65 or older and retired, my guess now would be that you are not sitting around doing nothing and “loving it.” You’re either more actively involved in your church or your organizations or your family. And that’s kinda like a job, except you are probably (I’m guessing now) much happier.

I see seniors every day at the center and they are active, involved in activities they enjoy and generally having a good time. The guys in the pool room are giving each other all kinds of “grief” about a shot they should have made but didn’t or talking about the shot they made that was remarkable and obviously was the best shot of the day. They’re laughing and giving each other a hard time and having fun. The ladies playing cards sometimes are laughing so loudly I have made the trip down the hall just to share in their happiness (and usually hear the joke or the happening that caused it). The people singing the old and new gospel songs are joining in making music that resounds through the building and puts a smile or a song on the heart of everyone within hearing distance. The couples dancing to the live music (whether they’re married or friends or just partners for the dance) are having fun and enjoyment with others who are doing the same.

I guess my point in telling you all this is to remind you that it may take a village to raise a child, but it takes a place like our senior center to keep life fun and interesting to those of us who are no longer an active part of the working community. Seniors in the center are greeted with smiling faces of people like Mary at the front desk. She’s a volunteer who’s been there so long she knows the first names of almost everyone. Bobbi Jean handles the kitchen staff, who prepare those delicious nutritious Blue Zone meals with help from Johnna, who also functions as the custodian. You can hear Kate’s laughter throughout the center, and she’s always willing to show new people around the building and tell about the activities in the different areas. Valorie does our shopping and is now stationed where she can see people as they come in, and you can hear her calling out hi’s and questioning how they’ve been. Our two instructors, Beth and Sharon, are in classes at the beginning and ending of almost every day, having fun and keeping people happy and healthy. Esther is our newest person, and she covers the front desk and helps out wherever she can. I, of course, have a desk around the corner where I spend my time thinking of ways to get people even more interested in the “formally best kept secret” in Shawnee — the Shawnee Senior Center. Marian, our assistant to the director, has been on the front desk for a while greeting people because we are short on volunteer staff to cover that position, but she also finds time to help with the new accounting system, write thank you letters and generally keep organized files.

And that brings me to the reason I am writing this column today. WE NEED VOLUNTEERS. We need people who are friendly with smiling faces who can answer the phone, take messages for staff and generally become an important part of the center atmosphere. We’re all here to have fun —both the people who come here and the people who work here. We have three full-time people and all the rest are part-time employees, and every one of them gives their best every single day. So if you would like to donate three or four hours of your time a week or more, come talk to Kate. We don’t expect you to be perfect, because none of us are. We all have little quirks that can haunt us on occasion, but we all are working to make the senior center the best place it can be. Check us out and join our center family; we’d love to have you!

Just a quick note on the Blue Zone Pottawatomie County Project meeting that was held on Sept. 19, that was last Tuesday, we didn’t have as many people as we would have liked, but we did have a great group who participated, and it was fun and informative for all of us there. If you get the chance to go to one in the future, check it out. I don’t think you will be disappointed and you’ll probably learn a lot.

And my last note for you all is to remind you that the “Mov’n to Motown” dance is coming. Mark Oct. 14 on your calendar and plan on joining us at the Municipal Auditorium for dancing fun to the oldies you will love to remember, provided by DJs James and Tammy Cotton.

Kate Joyce will once again be joining “Mike in the Morning” on Wednesday, Sept. 27 at 8:35 a.m. on KGFF Radio (FM 100.9 or AM 1450) with more information on our volunteering needs at the Shawnee Senior Center.

And remember, at the Shawnee Senior Center, “age is just a number.”

The website is www.SHAWNEESENIORS.ORG and our Facebbook page is “Shawnee Senior Center.” Big shout out and thanks to Marilyn Rountree.

Come join us at the center!