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Belmont County seniors party in Centerville

T-L Photo/ROBERT A. DEFRANK ABOVE: Mary Hanlin of Martins Ferry is among the Belmont County seniors having fun at the Centerville Senior Center during the yearly gathering Thursday. Almost 150 seniors attended.

CENTERVILLE — Fun was the theme Thursday when almost 150 senior citizens from Belmont County’s 11 senior centers gathered at the Centerville Senior Center for the annual picnic and party.

The directors of the 10 county senior centers and the volunteer center at Glencoe began putting on the picnic in 2016, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic this was the first time since 2019 they were able to gather again. There was music and dancing, and the seniors were exuberant

Mary Beth Tennant, Powhatan Point Senior Center coordinator, said this event was made possible in part by a donation from XTO Energy. She said the company ha

d helped the Powhatan Point center in the past and was happy to assist with Thursday’s gathering.

“There is no reason for any senior citizen in Belmont County to be lonely when you can come to the nearest senior center. I think people are under the impression that we only do crafts. That could not be further from the truth. We go on trips, shop, dine out, dance, play games or just interact. We are family,” she said. “(This is) our senior centers’ way of thanking everybody that comes into our centers.”

She added the event began at the park in St. Clairsville, but attendance soon outgrew the venue and it was moved to Centerville.

“(We) wanted to give something back to the seniors who came to our centers all the time,” said Tish Kinney, Bellaire Senior Center director who started the gathering along with Centerville Senior Center director Donna Steadman. “This is a thank-you.”

She said prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the celebration would usually host close to 200 seniors and the directors were happy to see the enthusiasm among the seniors upon their return to normalcy.

“It was awesome to have it again this year, because we haven’t had it for so long,” she said. “We are ready for it, the seniors are ready for it, it’s great. … We definitely miss the ones that weren’t here, but we’ll have another one next year. We’ll keep bringing them back, and we’ll keep dancing.”

“After COVID we’re so glad to get everybody back together again, the crowd was awesome,” Steadman said. “All the centers were represented. If the people are not coming to the centers, they’re really missing out.”

Michael Bok, marketing director from Country Club Rehabilitation Campus in Bellaire, was among the vendors present.

“I’m here just to see all the seniors. I usually go out and try to see as many as I can during the month,” he said.

Attendees included Helen Frangos of Colerain, celebrating her 95th birthday and dancing energetically. Frangos, who speaks fluent Polish, sang a song for a “Sto lat,” or happy birthday.

“I love it, this is my home away from home,” she said.

“I had fun, I enjoy all of the ones I go to. I haven’t been here for awhile,” Mary Hanlin of Martins Ferry said.

Arlean Selvy of the Powhatan Point Senior Center said she always attends senior services activities.

“They’re wonderful events, always,” she said. “I love the center, I love to be there, it has a lot of activities.”

“I think it was wonderful, and XTO, I thank them for helping out with it. The girls did a wonderful job, and we all had a good time,” Melda Gallaher, president of the Powhatan Point Senior Association, said.

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