TO GET INVOLVED
Those who consider themselves "senior" are welcome to join Seniors On the Move. Transportation is provided for Avondale/East Chattanooga residents by calling 423-697-1277. Activities are scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays.
Hazel Adams is an Avondale senior resident who has no intention of sitting home alone.
She started coming to the Avondale Recreation Center once a month to meet with her neighborhood association. Then she noticed Seniors On the Move. Now the 94-year-old former foster grandmother comes every week.
"I just wanted to get away from the house," Adams said.
The retired custodian is among an increasing number of seniors coming to Avondale Center after facility manager Gerald Perry started Seniors On the Move in February. He created the group after Avondale resident Dorothy Taylor, 68, asked him to develop programming and make the center a safe haven for seniors, as well as youths.
Perry started with a van and three senior residents. He had no funding and no calendar of events. He began recruiting more seniors by going to their homes to pick them up.
Taylor, president of Seniors On the Move, started calling her friends and neighbors, encouraging them to join.
Since then, the group has grown from fewer than five seniors to 17. Perry wants to double participation by the end of the year.
"We've gone from being a center to being family," he said.
Every Tuesday the group hits the road to a different activity.
"The only time we sit down is to eat," he said.
All the seniors are on a fixed income, so maybe they can't afford a cruise, but they went to the Mayfield Dairy Farm for $2, he said. They've been to the Bethlehem Center's Bistro and eaten at a discount. Next week they'll participate in chair aerobics at the city's Power House fitness center.
The group recently encouraged teenagers in the Howard School of Academics and Technology band. Seventy-year-old Bettie McCann's head rocked side to side, then back and forth as Howard's band played Stevie Wonder's "All I Do."
Adams patted her feet as Howard Principal Paul Smith played "No Weapon" on the keyboard. Some of the same students who performed in the band formed a chorus and sang.
Band director Dexter Bell constantly checked with the seniors to make sure the music wasn't too loud and they were pleased.
"I praise the Lord for them," said McCann as the students walked off the stage.
McCann spoke specifically to 15-year-old dancer Jaquisha Williams.
"Beautiful, child," McCann said. "Magnificent."
Taylor said Seniors On the Move gives seniors fellowship and purpose.
"A lot of people are at home, lonesome all day by themselves," said Taylor. "Now they can come out and be with us and have fun and enjoy things. We're going places."
Yolanda Putman has been a reporter at the Times Free Press for 11 years. She covers housing and previously covered education and crime. Yolanda is a Chattanooga native who has a master’s degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Alabama State University. She previously worked at the Lima (Ohio) News. She enjoys running, reading and writing and is the mother of one son, Tyreese. She has also ...