Harlan Senior Citizens Center is the place to be for older area residents

Published 2:30 pm Monday, September 11, 2023

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Senior citizens in Harlan County may have more options for socializing and finding assistance with the issues of aging than many realize. The Harlan Senior Citizens Center is available for all folks 60 years and older.

Jennell Spurlock, executive director of the Harlan County Committee on Aging, took some time to explain some of the activities accessible through the center.

“We actually have two centers,” Spurlock said. “We have one here in downtown Harlan and we have one in Bledsoe, right by the Green Hill Post Office.”

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According to Spurlock, The Harlan Senior Citizens Center (HSCC) was established in Harlan County in 1976. The facility began as a social hangout for people 60 and over.

“Now, we’re doing quite a bit more,” Spurlock said.

She explained the HSCC still serves as a social hangout for its members but additionally provides meals and other assistance to senior citizens.

“The facility is come and go as you please,” Spurlock said. “If they want to come in and play a game of pool – we have a billiard table – they can, and every day we have some kind of program going on. We have bingo on Thursdays, we have exercise groups Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at the Harlan Center.”

Additionally, the HSCC offers crafts, multiple games, and other occasional events such as a recent sock hop, which was held at the Harlan Center.

“We’re always doing something,” Spurlock said. “It’s a good place to be.”

The HCSS is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., with lunch served at 11:30 a.m. every day the facility is open. The menu features many items, including seasonal selections depending on if it’s summer, fall, winter or spring.

“There’s no cost to be a member here,” Spurlock said. “Anybody can come in and register as long as they are 60 years of age or older, or if their spouse is 60 years of age or older.”

Spurlock noted there is no cost to register as a member or for the services offered.

“We have 15 people on staff,” Spurlock said. “We have several in the kitchen, and there are five meal delivery people that go throughout Harlan County.”

Spurlock explained some requirements must be met to receive a home-delivered meal, including being 60 or older, not having a caretaker in the home who can provide a meal daily, are unable to prepare a meal for themselves and do not have transportation.

“We also offer other services to those who qualify,” Spurlock said. “We offer respite care for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. What that means is if someone has Alzheimer’s or dementia, we will go into the home and give the caretaker a break. Sometimes, caretakers are the only person with the individual 24 hours a day…they may need to go out and pay bills or go grocery shopping.”

HSCC offers no medical services, however many other services are available such as housekeeping and chore services.

The HSCC serves many clients every day.

“We have a lot of clients,” Spurlock said. “On a daily basis, anywhere from 20 to 30 members come by and do whatever craft, game or program, and we deliver around 140 meals per day around Harlan County.”

Spurlock mentioned her favorite part of working at the HSCC.

“My favorite time to spend with our seniors is when we have lunch, and we just sit down and have good conversations and they begin to tell you about their lives,” Spurlock said. “One I remember on a daily basis is the ‘Price is Right story.’”

Spurlock remembered one man who came in every day to watch the “Price is Right” on television.

“I sat down with him and said you really love this game show,” Spurlock said. “He said, ‘No, not really.’ I asked if he wanted me to change the channel, and he said absolutely not.”

Spurlock remembered the gentleman explained he watched the show because he had lived with his wife close to where “The Price is Right” was produced, and his wife went every day to try to be on the show.

“She would get up, fix his breakfast, have lunch ready for him to get out of the icebox, and she would leave and stand in line every day hoping to get on ‘The Price is Right,’” Spurlock said. “He said, ‘I had to watch every day to see if she ever made it on ‘The Price is Right.’ She never made it onstage…and now that’s just part of my life because it was for so many years, even though she’s passed away.’ So, every day when I go in there and they’re watching that, I think of him. That’s one of my most memorable stories.”

Spurlock pointed out that one of the main goals of the HSCC is to help seniors maintain an active social life and provide services that may possibly allow some seniors to stay out of facilities such as nursing homes or retirement homes.

“We are here to help the seniors of Harlan County,” Spurlock said. “This gives them socialization…and we do a lot that most people don’t know about…if you’re 60 or over, this is the place to be!”

For more information on the programs and services available at the Harlan Senior Citizens Center, call 606-573-3496 or go the Harlan Co. Senior Centers Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/664794778293069.

The facility is located at 105 N. Cumberland Avenue in downtown Harlan.