Faison Senior Center home to numerous programs

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 22, 2007

JACKSON – Tucked away behind a small slope just outside of Jackson is a small brown brick building that most never think twice about as they pass it on Highway 305 North.

But in a time when people turn to plastic surgery to erase their wrinkles or any sign of aging, this 4,000 square feet structure known as the J.W. Faison Senior Center lets the county’s senior citizens embrace their age.

“I always say we’re the county’s best kept secret,” said the center’s director Rebecca Bayse. “A lot of people don’t know about us.”

The center is open to ages 60 and older and offers several diverse programs for seniors, including recreational, social and advocacy.

On the recreational and social side the center provides an outlet through activities like arts and crafts, dances and trips.

From the advocacy standpoint the center offers AARP tax aid, a nutrition program, health screenings and legal aid.

Bayse said they have helped seniors with Medicare Part D as well.

According to Bayse, the senior center started in the late ‘80s as a part of the Rural Health Group and is now a private non-profit that is funded by grants, donations and fundraisers.

Bayse has only been with the center for three years, but her work experience with seniors spans 10 years (including a stint at a nursing home in Hertford County) and her experience with seniors started when she was a child.

“I grew up around a lot of older people,” she said.

She’s a well-known figure to the seniors at the center, not only as the director, but as a beloved friend too.

The center’s newly formed Red Hats Society refers to Bayse as “Queen Bee.”

When Mina Martin came into the center on Tuesday she gave Bayse a hand woven diamond pattern afghan as a gift of her appreciation.

“She’s such a pleasant person,” said Martin about Bayse. “She loves her old people.”

Bayse said the center provides a channel for seniors to improve the quality of their life through socialization, education and breaking down stereotypes that older individuals are often filed under.

For most seniors who utilize the center it gives them a way to stay dynamic and also be a part of a community.

“It keeps seniors active gives them a reason to get up and get out of the house instead of sitting around feeling sorry for themselves,” said Pat Maddrey as she worked away in a scrap booking class.

While some seniors make it a point to go to the center two to three times a week, others drop in when they’re around the area.

They drive themselves, carpool with others or take a bus provided by the center from all over the county, including Seaboard, Lasker and Rich Square.

Elsie Hilliard visits when she takes her husband to therapy at Hampton Woods Health and Rehabilitation Center, Inc.

“He’s having his therapy there and I’m having my therapy here,” she said. “If I were to rate this place from one to 100, I would give it a 110.”

Hilliard said she’s participated in a few of the center’s programs, including a caregiver workshop and computer courses.

Others have benefited from the center’s many educational programs.

Martin said she learned a lot in the 55 ALIVE Driving course, which gives seniors driving tips and refreshes their minds about rules for the roads.

She also benefited from the AARP tax aid program that offers free tax service to seniors. Martin participated in the program last year as well as this year.

“Most of the time I don’t make enough to file,” she said. “But I would still have to pay $100 (for tax services); with this I don’t have to pay anything.”

And it’s not just a hotspot for seniors; guests of seniors who have come to the facility have enjoyed it as well.

“My grandchildren think this the coolest place in Jackson,” said Donna Futrell.

Bayse said the majority of seniors that come to the center are female, though there are a few men who come for the nutrition program.

“There’s only two or three of us,” said Floyd Watson.

Though his gender is out numbered Watson said it doesn’t bother him and the center has given him a sense of community.

Bayse said despite all of the participation she sees on a daily basis, she would like to see more of the county’s seniors get involved with the center.

“Regardless of their income or what they like,” she said, “there is something here for everyone.”

“It’s an asset to this county,” said Sarah “Sister” Futrell, a senior who teaches knitting and crocheting classes. “I wish they would take advantage of it. They don’t realize what is out here.”

Bayse said the current clients at the senior center are welcoming to new seniors.

For those who are involved with the center, just simply knowing there is a place they can be themselves is a comfort.

“It’s here for us,” said Martin. “It means a lot to know it’s here for us.”

For more information about the Faison Senior Center, call (252) 534-1012.