Holding balloons

Sandy Samick (left) and Barb Rajchel released balloons in memory of senior center members who died during the COVID-19 pandemic closure.

KERSEY – Members of the Fox Township and St. Marys senior centers gathered for a “Welcome Back Picnic” at Fox Township Park Wednesday, after the centers were closed for nearly 70 weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Barb Rajchel, director of Fox Township Senior Center in Kersey, said the center officially reopened July 12, and the St. Marys Senior Center reopened July 13.

The center will resume its activities “full force” Aug. 2, Rajchel added, and is currently doing more of a “soft opening.”

Besides a nice picnic lunch, seniors enjoyed music provided by Jim Shaffer and Friends, bingo, raffle drawings and prizes, while the Office of Human Services (OHS) also provided free ice cream by Brandy Camp Creamery.

The turnout was great, said Rajchel, with 95 seniors in attendance.

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Although the St. Marys Senior Center offered takeout meals and made phone calls to its members throughout the closure, there is nothing like seeing them in person, said Director Lesa Lamb.

The picnic’s main highlight was a special balloon launch in memory of the members who passed during the pandemic while the centers were closed.

The St. Marys Senior Center fortunately lost none of its members within this time frame, while the Fox Township center read aloud the names of 15 late members, before colorful balloons were released into the sky.

Rajchel also thanked the staff workers of Fox Township Park for all of their help with the event.

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