Thank you to the seniors at the Senior Center for the grand lunch I was invited to on Monday.
For just $4, any community member could have joined us -- and still can every day at noon. If you happen to be 50 years or older, you can chip in $5 for a yearly membership and then your hot lunch only costs $3 each day.
If, for some reason, you are unable to leave home -- they offer meals on wheels for just 50 cents more. All it takes is a reservation. You give them 24-hours notice that you will grace them with your presence and they will dish it up.
The doors to the senior dining hall, located at the community center in Pine, open a little after 10 a.m. and there is usually a friendly game of pool or canasta or bridge going on. Sometimes piano music gets going, and in the summer, there is line dancing. Either way, it seems a pleasant way to spend an afternoon.
On Monday, Food Service Director Carolyn Jentzen served up steaming pasta with Swedish meatballs, hot veggies and salad bar. It was delicious.
But alas, it was a plot. A ploy to get me to encourage you to join them.
These crafty seniors are interested in letting more people know about the center, how they operate and how more people can volunteer. I knew there was a catch.
Master chef and short order cook Jentzen is the only full-time employee. She serves anywhere from 20 to as many as 90 meals a day. The center also has two part-time employees and that's it.
The rest of the work -- as much as 4,000 hours a year -- is completed by volunteers.
The Senior Thrift Store is the primary money maker that makes these senior discount lunches possible. The senior lunch program is self-supporting and doesn't rely on government handouts.
The volunteers take in all useable donations they can get. They clean, wash, press mend, repair and sell what they can. Many times, they provide free clothing to those in need, in Pine-Strawberry, Payson and even Prescott. If an item is usable, but not saleable, it is donated to another worthy cause.
Where else can you get an outfit and a microwave for less than $35?
As members of CERCA, the Community Educational Recreational Civic Association, which oversees the community center and its grounds, the seniors pay rent plus 7 percent of their gross income from the thrift store for the right to occupy those historic buildings.
A nine-member governing board runs the center. Members are nominated and then voted on by the board.
If you would like to learn more about how this group keeps it together, make a lunch reservation at 476-2151. Lunch is served Monday through Friday. The thrift store is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. If you can help the seniors out, call 476-4633.
The Pine-Strawberry Historical Society's annual membership meeting is set for March 7, and the group is actively looking for board members. If you have any interest in serving, Marie Crews of the nominating committee would love to hear from you. Call her at 476-3296. The crew also has a hip and cool new Web site. Check it out at www.geocities.com/pinestrawhs
The Pine-Strawberry Class of 2000 is getting ready to meet the millennium.
Planning for the future begins with serious planning for the class trip. The class is looking for donations for the class fund-raiser this year. There will be a silent auction at the Phoenix Coyote Dinner, Dance and Auction. If you have anything to donate, call 476-3283.