President Mark Killingsworth presided over today’s meeting Lucy Sanguinetti provided the invocation. The meeting was held by Zoom due to COVID-19 restrictions. Bill MacLauchlan led us in the Pledge of Allegiance. Mark announced that the club will be unable to meet in person until September 8. Joe Bost thanked Lucy and Bill for helping with today’s meeting.
Lucy then introduced our guest speaker, Mary Kim Smith. Mary has been the Executive Director of the Wesley Manor Retirement Community for the past two years. The community is a part of a Mississippi based, not-for-profit, faith-based organization. It was founded in 1962 in Tupelo. The organization has twelve campuses across the state. Wesley Manor was founded in 1987 to serve the Hattiesburg area as an independent living center. It receives partial support from the Mississippi Methodist Senior Services entity.
Wesley Manor’s goals include allowing seniors to live in solitude, and at the same time, allowing them to have opportunities for socialization. Residents are provided with a daily lunch, laundry facilities, housekeeping services and maintenance. Rents are subsidized through HUD, so rates are competitive. Residents also are provided with utilities.
COVID-19 has presented a number of challenges for the residents and staff. Prior to the outbreak they had an almost 100 percent residency. Now, they have to be very careful with move-ins. They have plans to reopen the cafeteria as soon as COVID numbers decrease to a safe level. Thus far, Mary reports that Wesley Manor has had no cases. They are encouraging and assisting residents to set up telehealth appointments with medical providers.
Prior to COVID residents took trips to the coast, went to Walmart, and went to see their doctors in person. COVID forced the staff to get creative. Residents now play hall bingo. They have hallway root beer floats, get baked deserts and candy donated by several partnerships which have been developed. They are trying to raise money to provide a Hugging Booth on the facilities grounds. Residents would be able to visit with family members utilizing several safety measures, be able to get hugs from them. Mary says depression is a problem for many of the residents.
When asked what Rotary could do to help, Mary says call and ask what they need. It could be candy bars or other things the residents could use. She also noted that we could take on their Hugging Booth project and help raise money to build a pavilion where the booth could be housed. She also says we could consider volunteering to serve on their board of directors. She also said that we could tell people who might need their services. Residents have to be 62 years of age or older.
Mark thanked Mary for her presentation. He noted that the club is still looking for a home for the 400 books he brought back from New Orleans. Richard Topp has an idea for the books that he will check into.
Mark also asked members who are doing individual acts of service to take pictures of the acts and send them to Rotary. There being no further business to come before the club, Mark thanked those who were able to attend today’s Zoom meeting and adjourned the meeting with our motto: “Service Above Self.”