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‘This is one time when everybody smiles’
Rotary Club brings Christmas joy to senior center
I-Rotary Christmas pic 1.JPG
Santa Claus paid a visit to the Margie Weaver Senior Center to visit with senior clients during the annual Christmas party provided by the Rotary Club of Dawson County Dec. 13. - photo by Jessica Taylor

As the piano hummed with classic holiday tunes and jingle bells chimed, the spirit of Christmas rang loud and clear at the Margie Weaver Senior Center last week as seniors gathered for the 13th annual Christmas party sponsored by the Rotary Club of Dawson County.

Members of the Rotary Club gathered at the senior center Dec. 13 for a session of caroling and to deliver Christmas gifts to all the seniors. They also brought a special guest, Santa Claus, who hugged and visited with everyone.

“I was never Santa before Rotary. It’s amazing what you’ll do for Rotary,” said former club President Pepper Pettit, who donned the red suit this year.

After singing along to holiday classics, Rotarians handed out gift bags full of goodies specially picked out for each senior by Director Dawn Pruett.

“Rotary graciously funds our Christmas party gifts for our clients here,” Pruett said.

This year, the Rotary Club was able to donate 50 gifts to seniors as a way to give back to the community and put smiles on friendly faces.

“For some of these seniors, this will be the only Christmas they have,” Pettit said.

It’s an especially heartwarming time in the senior center according to client Helen Cowart, who reflected on her past four years at the Christmas party.

“I’m enjoying every minute of it,” Cowart said after receiving a gift of gloves, lotions and a warm hat. “This place is special.”

Cowart said that previously she was a full-time caregiver to her mother, who battled Alzheimer’s. As a homebound client, Cowart became incredibly close with Pruett. Pruett referred to Cowart as her second mother.

“Ms. Helen would call us and she had no outside contact with the world because she was such a good caregiver and she would not leave her mother,” Pruett said. “She would call and just need somebody to talk to, she needed support and she needed a break – was what she needed.”

When her mother passed away in 2014, Cowart began coming to the senior center every day.

“I love it. I don’t miss a day if I can help it,” Cowart said. “Dawn and all the girls here, they’re precious to me. I’ve never had anybody be, you know, precious as they are.”

“She says that we saved her life but she helped save our life too,” Pruett said.

Joe Gaines, the minister at Cornerstone Church who also leads Bible study at the center every Thursday, said he felt the Christmas spirit in the center during the party.

“You know, this is one time when everybody smiles,” Gaines said. “A lot of days people don’t feel good. A lot of days people have their own problems or troubles, but this is a time when everybody smiles so it’s special.”

The center is such a warm and inviting place that Cowart is doing her part to recruit new members so they can experience the love and fellowship she has received.

“Come and visit. Come and join. I’ve tried to talk to everybody that I know that’s old enough to come here. I invite them. It may not be my job but I do,” Cowart said, smiling.

“Every one of these people in here, you know, regardless of where they come from or whatever they are they still got a soul, and they still want to be happy and they still want to live and they still want to enjoy life,” Gaines said.  “So what the senior center does it kind of gives them a chance to, no matter what their home life is, at least when they come here they’re protected and they’re well fed, they’re loved and they’re taken care of and I think that’s what this center means.”