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Seniors enjoy Easter feast

April 02, 2010|By RICHARD F. BELISLE
  • Sandra Slazer won a cake Friday for the Easter bonnet she wore to the annual Easter dinner at the Jefferson County senior center. She made the hat the night before the event.
Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

RANSON, W.VA. -- About a dozen of Gaius Lee Brown's' intricate black walnut carvings were pinned to his shirt Friday as he joined nearly 250 area folks for the annual Easter dinner at the Jefferson County senior center.

"I must have given about 3,000 of these things away so far," said "Brownie," as he is known by friends at the Anna May Reeder Senior Center at 103 W. 5th St.

Brown, 87, a World War II veteran who "fought all over" in Europe, lives alone in Charles Town since his wife of 62 years passed away four years ago.

He spends his time these days making his carvings, which he turns into pins, necklaces and earrings, and daily visits to the center for meals and camaraderie.

Martha "Mouthy" Zimmerman, as she likes being called, is Brown's neighbor and close friend. She drives him to the center since he stopped driving.

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Zimmerman, who was wearing a whimsical homemade Easter bonnet, praised Brown for being willing to help anyone in need.

Her nickname comes from her friendly, warm, but boisterous manner and her infectious laugh.

"We can hear her across the room," said her friend, Evelyn Fox, who sat across from Zimmerman at the table Friday. "If it's quiet, we don't think she think she's here."

At another table sat cousins Richard, 83, and Isiah Carter, 97 of Kearneysville, W.Va.

Richard said he goes to the center twice a week for meals and has them home-delivered three days. Isiah visits the center one day and has meals home-delivered four days.

Isiah wrote his name in shaky, but legible script. He spent his working years on a farm and at a quarry, he said.

Richard did farm work early in life and later worked at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Martinsburg, W.Va.

Shawnna Molina, executive director of the Jefferson County Commission on Aging, said Friday's dinner, the fourth annual, was provided by Charles Town Races and Slots.

The track partners with the agency by providing meals from its own kitchens for those eaten at the center and those in the agency's home-delivered meals program. About 1,800 meals were delivered to elderly residents in March.

Charles Town Races and Slots also donated two vans to the agency for the homebound meal program.

Molina said an average day finds 60 to 80 people at the senior center for meals Monday through Friday. Another 60 or so meals are delivered Monday, Wednesday and Friday to the Bolivar Community Center, and on Tuesday and Thursday to the Blue Ridge Mountain fire hall. Another 15 to 30 meals are delivered to disabled seniors at Charles Towers, she said.

The Jefferson County Commission on Aging has an annual budget of about $2 million, Molina said. The agency has about 140 employees, including 15 who work full time. It also has 10 volunteers but can use more, she said.

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