Senior Center a vital part of Caraway community
Caraway Senior Center facility has received a complete makeover from the roof to the floors. The landmark building, owned by the city of Caraway, has served as a home for senior citizens since 1997.
The building, located at 305 North New York Street, has weathered many storms since it was built in 1940. It was originally Murphy/Kincannon Dry Goods Store.
Local historian Lynn Haag said it was a wonderful store.
"You could go in there and buy anything you wanted," he said.
When it closed Harold Browning purchased the building that was later purchased by the city of Caraway with plans for a new senior center. The senior site formed in Caraway in 1995 and was housed in a small room in the city hall complex.
Cleffee Gipson was the first senior site director. The senior citizen center was such a success, it had outgrown the small building in just two years. Gipson said the city received a grant for renovations to the building and it was transformed into the perfect home for the senior citizen center.
The building has served area seniors who enjoy gathering every day for games, exercise, classes, and lunch.
In addition to the senior center, it is available on weekends for rental. It is a great place for retirement parties, reunions, other parties, or large family gatherings. The 90X50' building can accoodate a large crowd.
Site director is Kim Morgan. She began her career as site director in August when Gipson retired. Caraway's senior center is part of St. Bernard's Senior Life Center program.
The city of Caraway suffered a tornado on Oct. 31, 2013, destroying most of the downtown buildings.
The historic senior center building, located just off Main Street, did have some wind damage to the roof but stood strong. It was used for a central location for the Red Cross following the tornado.
Gipson said the seniors all volunteered and they worked 14 to 15 hours a day. The Red Cross set up areas to talk to help people with the paperwork and food was served in the facility. Volunteers also delivered food around town. Mission groups came in setting up tents behind the senior center and cooked for workers and families during the clean-up.
"We are fortunate to have the facility here," Kim said. "It serves Caraway and the community well."
In addition to the seniors who attend every day, meals are delivered to area shut-ins.
Caraway Mayor Barry Riley is proud to have the senior center to meet the needs of the senior citizens. Mayor Riley recently applied for and received a $50,000 grant through the Rural
Development Block. Among the repairs the building received were new ceiling tiles, a new roof with new trim, refinishing of the tile floors, and a new central heat and air unit.
The work was done without the center having to close.
The senior center is open from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Kim and part-time employee Susie Meurer, worked every afternoon covering the tables and appliances so the contractors could do their work.
"They did a great job," Kim said. "The final inspection was done a few weeks ago with the work being approved."
Area Senior Citizens gather Monday through Friday enjoying games, exercise, guest speakers, lunch and much more. The center features a pool table for those who enjoy the game and a large exercise room filled with a variety of stationary bicycles and treadmills.
They also have access to a large variety of books through the traveling books program from the Jonesboro Library.
Each month a birthday celebration is held for the seniors celebrating birthdays.
Tim Ritter, Lake City site director, delivers meals each day to Lake City, Monette, and Caraway.
The senior center has been serving the community for 20 years and the future looks good.
All seniors interested in more information or being part of the every day camaraderie shared by the men and women at the Caraway Senior Center is invited to stop by and visit. There is something available for everyone. A food pantry is held and food is distributed to seniors once a month at the center. Also, anyone interested in renting the building for a private party can contact Kim at the center, 482-3348.