It’s 11:30 a.m. at the Corning Senior Center and voices and laughter can be heard as seniors from Corning and its surrounding area meet for a nutritious lunch.
“I love to come here,” said Sam Brown. “I enjoy the food and companionship of other seniors in the community.”
Outside of the Monday-Friday lunchtime, the center, located the corner of Fourth and Marin streets, is a bevy of activity with Sit N Fit exercise group, Tuesday Art Group, Jammers, Bingo, commodities day and more.
Under the direction of the center’s Executive Director Karen Burnett and a priceless group of volunteers, the Senior Center fills many needs for the “older” crowd in Corning.
“This is an important place in our community,” Burnett said. “I fills a vital role for the seniors who otherwise might not have anywhere else to go, to socialize and receive a good meal.”
On average, the center feeds about 30 people between its served lunch and brunch table.
“But the socialization it provides is just as important,” Burnett added. “You come in this building during activities or at lunch as you can’t hardly hear yourself think there is so much enthusiastic visiting, they sound like a gaggle of magpies, I love it. Studies have shown that congregate meals are so much better for a person’s health on all levels.”
In addition the center offers Corning Recreation Program classes where the seniors have the opportunity to teach and rub shoulders with the community’s youths.
Also, the center’s seniors take part in a Reading and Write-on program with local schools’ SERRF after-school programs.
“Our seniors go to the after-school program and read to kindergarten-age kids. We call it granny-time, and the children love it,” Burnett said.
Add into all this the center’s on-site therapy dog, Geovana, a 4-year-old registered Standard Poodle.
“She just seems to know who needs her attention and love on any given day,” said Burnett, who owns the pooch.
Marlae Hackett of Corning said she comes to the center to have a meal and to visit and remember old times with some of the people she used to work with at Bell Carter Foods.
Joe Russo, who lives at the Woodson Bridge Estates near the Sacramento River, comes to center each weekday for lunch and takes a meal home to his roommate who can’t get out much.
“If it wasn’t for the Senior Center I know of many, including myself, who wouldn’t have a healthy lunch. We can hardly rub two pennies together and really need this place and what it offers,” he said.
Darrell Bofferding, who is in his 80s, said he loves the place and believes it is a great asset to the community.
Ran by a board of directors, Burnett said the center wouldn’t be the place that it is if not for its volunteers.
“I can’t even name them all,” she said. “I have Dot Emerson, out site supervisor who is paid but also volunteers countless hours. There is Delores May and Winnie Peterson, Caroline Slater who volunteers to wash our dishes everyday, and so many more.”
Each week the seniors can come to the center to receive free USDA food commodities.
The center also offers free haircuts and holiday celebrations.
“The community is a great support and we have many unnamed sources that provide us free food that the seniors so very much enjoy,” Emerson said.
One source of support came within the last year when under the help of Tehama County Supervisor Bob Williams, the Ygrene Energy came to the center and replaced all its doors and windows with energy efficient improvements.
“That has really saved so much on our energy bill and they look so much better,” Burnett said.
Volunteers over the years have also planted flowers, painted the inside of the center, and helped in many other ways.
All-in-all, the Corning Senior Center is a happening place on many levels.