In 2006, my mother died and then 40 days later, my wife Katie, died. We were married 54 years. Needless to say, I was depressed. Then I heard about the meals at the Senior Center from my friend Rosemary Brouwer who went to church with me. She told me to come on down.
My first impression when I walked through the doors was, “Wow the staff are really glad to see me!” I think that’s the first thing you need when you have no family nearby. That started things and brought me to the Senior Center almost every day.
Over time, I saw other programs at the Senior Center. For example, there are AARP Tax Foundation volunteers who can help you with your taxes. Then there was a singing group — the SheridanAires — that attracted me. John Trohkimoinen sang with me in our church choir and invited me to join the SheridanAires. I joined the next spring and have been singing with them ever since. That was about seven years ago.
There are other programs that attract other people like the theater group and the volunteer program. I’d guess that being a volunteer has probably helped a lot of people out of depression.
Then, there’s the mini-bus. If you can’t drive, it’s a great way to get around. You just can’t sit around and watch television.
From many of the patrons, I have learned jokes that you can tell anywhere. I distribute those quite freely. Laughing is good for depression.
I’ve taken it upon myself to sing to people who come to the Senior Center and to the staff from time to time, something I like to do. I just recently sang the song “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” to the dining room this past Valentine’s Day. Singing is good for depression even for people who think they can’t sing.
If you come for lunch, you are around people who are a lot like you. You can share your problems and be a listening ear for them. Being around people can be good to beat depression.
I’ve made new friends at the Senior Center like in the SheridanAires and during the six years when I was on the Senior Center board of directors. Friendship is good when you’re depressed. As a retired fire marshall, the staff has asked my opinion on safety issues from time to time. That makes me feel valuable; feeling valued is another way to lift you out of your depression.
I recently donated a Valentine Tribute at the Senior Center during their annual Valentine Tribute campaign. I wished the Senior Center management and staff a Happy Valentine’s Day for being here for me.
The Senior Center is as good a place as anything when you’re depressed. It’s nice to find people here in town that care about you. My point, the Senior Center is a good place for fighting depression.
Leonard Hurst is a Sheridan resident, a former Senior Center board member, and a supporter of the Senior Center. Center Stage is written by friends of the Senior Center for the Sheridan Community. It is a collection of insights and stories related to living well at every age.