Cherokee Nation Elder Center in Porum Serves Meals with a Smile
PORUM, Okla. ─ Senior Citizens in the Porum area have discovered a place that offers more than a warm meal. They also get a smile, conversation, and sometimes, a hug. The Cherokee Nation Elder Center has a little something for everybody over the age of 55.
"Along with meals, we try to offer activities like Bingo or exercises," said Crystal Fritz, family advocate with the Cherokee Nation who is charged with keeping the Elder Center running smoothly. "We have a nurse that comes in and does blood pressure checks at least once a week and we have Cherokee language classes."
"I come here to visit with friends," said James Lossie, 72, while sipping his soup. "It's somewhere to go."
The center serves hot meals on Mondays and Tuesdays at 11:30 a.m. The meals are free to Native American elders and only $2.50 for non-Native elders. They are prepared by three volunteer cooks from the community.
"I do it just to help," said Dixie Maybray, 72, volunteer cook. "Before my husband died, he told me to keep helping, so I do. I enjoy it. Some of them don't cook for themselves so I'm glad that I can help do that for them."
When the center is not serving lunch, they often open their doors throughout the week for other activities.
"I'm going to start coming out to some stuff here," said Virginia Reece, 74, also of Porum. "My legs get really weak if I don't use them. I need to get out and straighten them out. It'll give me a place to go."
"We've offered basket-weaving classes, dream catcher classes and lots of different crafts," Fritz added.
Reece, who speaks some Cherokee, is also a student in the Cherokee language class that meets at the center on Monday nights at 6:30 p.m.
"There's six of us in there," Reece said with a smile. "The teacher does real good. She explains everything to them and when she can't think of a word, she comes to me."
The Cherokee Nation operates 12 nutrition sites for senior citizens in elder centers throughout its 14-county jurisdictional area. All sites offer warm meals and participate in Meals on Wheels programs to deliver meals to elders that are not able to leave their homes. For more information on the nutrition sites, contact Cherokee Nation Human Services at (918) 456-0671, ext. 2463. For more information on the Cherokee Nation Elder Center in Porum, contact Crystal Fritz at (918) 775-6226.