The Best and Worst of Times

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

– “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens

Dickens begins this tale with a revelation that human prosperity cannot be matched with human despair. I’ve always wanted to start a column with that quote, but I’ve never had the opportunity to do so – until now. We live in unprecedented times. Each day brings with it different rules, social isolation, financial upheaval and a general uneasiness. At the same time, each day brings hope, evolution, adaptability and progress. The words “pandemic” and “coronavirus” were not a part of our lexicon just a few months ago.

The Broken Arrow Senior Center was thriving. We introduced eight new fitness classes in January. We welcomed 70 new members in February. Our monthly Health and Wellness seminar presented by Hillcrest South was at capacity for the third time in a row.

Last month, at the time this newsletter was going to print, Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum and Broken Arrow Mayor Craig Thurmond told their communities to “shelter in place” and that everyone needed to stay home until at least the end of April to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

That plan doesn’t seem to be the new reality anymore, given the current spread of infection and more grim daily updates. Social distancing will no doubt continue into May and perhaps June.

We know times have been tough. In the midst of everything going on in the world, our nation and our community, we wanted to let you know we’re here for you. Our staff and activity leaders have been working hard to ensure you’re well informed and supported during this time.

The doors of the senior center closed on March 16 in an effort to be proactive in keeping members, volunteers, supporters and staff safe. Our mission is to provide a safe place for older adults to be physically active and socially engaged. When we closed the Center, our ability to deliver on our mission required different ideas, different thinking and will no doubt result in significant changes that will be felt long after COVID-19 is history.

It was a difficult decision to make because the Center is important to our members. It was, however, an easy decision to make because our members are important to the Center. We had been planning since the beginning of March to determine how we would change our operation given the potential spread of the virus.

The first thing we could control was noontime meals for our members. We provided lunch every day as curbside pickup. We made this change nearly a week before it was a mandate from the city of Broken Arrow. At the end of our first two weeks of curbside service, we changed again.

To better protect our members, staff and volunteers, we shifted lunch pickup to once every two weeks – on Wednesday. Members received a box with five frozen meals and a box with five shelf-stable meals. The next pickup is April 15 at 11:30 a.m. at the Center.

If you are over 60 years old and want to take advantage of the nutrition program, please visit www.baseniors.org to download the form under the nutrition tab. If you need to join the Center, the membership application is in the membership section. Bring the completed form with you when you pick up meals.

Senior Nutrition needs to know how many people are coming, so members should still RSVP at least a day before. Important: Requests to pick up meals on April 15 must be made by 11 a.m. on April 14 by calling 918-835-4160. If you are without transportation or homebound and need meals, call the number above to request assistance with home delivery.

Even though the Center’s doors are closed for the time being, our mission continues through the efforts of our staff and activity leaders. They have been committed to inspiring you, as members of the Center, to stay engaged through these days of isolation. A variety of innovative ways for you to continue benefiting from your membership in the BA Senior Center are listed in this abbreviated newsletter.

Many activities require access to a computer. This is an opportunity to become technologically savvy! Take advantage of connecting with others by using Zoom for video chats. If you only have a phone, you can join in on a group Zoom chat as well.

If you have a computer with internet access, links to our own Zumba Gold instructor, Linda Few, leading Zumba Gold and Chair Zumba classes, are available to you.

Now is your chance to reap the benefits of line dancing in the privacy of your own home by watching YouTube video links provided by Michelle Howard, our Line Dancing instructor.

Watch Jewelee Houston, our Line Dance for Fitness instructor, on YouTube or Gary Siftar lead our Limited Exercise class through a link on our website.

You can even play poker with other members, participate in creative writing and novel writing and learn more about crochet. These activities are meeting via Zoom in real time. If you don’t have contact information for someone you would like to check on or just talk with, contact Ami Bucher or myself. Although we cannot provide information to you directly, we will do what we can to connect you with other members. You can reach Sean at sean@baseniors.org or 405-642-0266 and Ami at ami@ baseniors.org or 918-938-1487.

We’re committed to bringing you – our members, volunteers and supporters – together while keeping you safe. We’re creating a world-class virtual experience that will leave you inspired and arm you with practical actions for your community.

In the face of this challenge, we will be resilient. We will endure. We will take care of ourselves. We will help one another. And we will emerge from this time of uncertainty and upheaval with a chance to build a better future.

Stay safe my friends!