Paint Rock Senior Center thrives
Jane Guerin devotes her life to looking after others. For over 20 years, she operated a daycare center in Marshall County. Today, she’s the director at the Paint Rock Senior Center, run by the Jackson County Council on Aging and located in the old Paint Rock School building. “I’m a caregiver,” she says. “I have a gift from God, and I’m not ashamed to tell people.”
Guerin first felt the urge to get involved with the older people in her community after experiencing a deeply personal loss. As her mother’s health declined, Guerin left her job and moved back to her family home to be her mother’s full-time caregiver for the final years of her life.
“After my mama passed away, I was lost,” she says. “I asked God what I should do next and he put it in my head and on my heart … I can cook,” she says.
So, Guerin began baking cakes to sell by the slice. She visited local businesses, mainly selling slices to employees who needed a sweet pick-me-up during a long shift. Her carrot, red velvet, and other layer cakes quickly earned a reputation. She became known affectionately to locals as “The Cake Lady.” But, as with many businesses, the spread of COVID-19 brought Guerin’s progress to a screeching halt.
The Paint Rock Senior Center had to close during the early days of the pandemic, and when it reopened, it needed a director. Guerin was asked to consider the position, and she accepted.
“I love it, I enjoy it. I’ve just got a whole new purpose in life,” she says. “The Council on Aging is a wonderful organization. They’re all about helping seniors. It’s such a rewarding job.”
Open on weekdays, the center is a place where seniors can get a hot meal, socialize and participate in activities. Meals for the seniors are well-balanced, including a meat, veggies, dessert, and fresh fruit. On “Fun Fridays,” a local hospice organization comes to the center and organizes a day of bingo.
“I pop popcorn for them, and it’s like a party day for them,” Guerin says. “They appreciate it so much. It’s the little things in life for the seniors.”
There’s always something happening at the senior center. On any given day, patrons can be found playing Skip-Bo, working on puzzles, or playing checkers. Art classes are also a popular activity. A local trio from the Trading Post Cowboy Church in Woodville entertains attendees on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, playing guitar and singing.
“I’m trying to get different people in more organizations to come out,” Guerin says. “I feel like the more that we have and the more we offer, the more people will want to check it out.”
Guerin recently attended training for Stay Active and Independent for Life classes. SAIL is an exercise program that will soon be offered at the center. “I learn something new every day,” she says.
On the busiest days, the center will welcome about 20 seniors who come in to socialize and eat. Guerin and her aide, Dianne Kimbrough, deliver around 10 meals daily to those who are homebound.
“When you deliver those meals, you may be the only person they see for weeks,” she says. “I try to spend some time with each one. It’s been a blessing and a really rewarding experience for me.”
In the future, Guerin envisions a Music in the Park event featuring local musicians and a concession stand as a fundraiser for the center. “We want Paint Rock to be known for a good senior program,” she says.
Exercise Body & Mind
A healthy mind is just as important as a healthy body. Being proactive and taking steps toward developing healthy habits can renew purpose and is good for overall well-being.
Daily movement and exercise is crucial to maintaining a healthy body and outlook on life. It’s been proven to strengthen bones and muscles, improve balance and help prevent cardiac conditions. A simple daily walk can make a huge difference.
Performing balance activities and exercises helps prevent falls that can be dangerous for seniors. These activities can be enjoyed by attending classes at the local senior center or at home following a program designed by a physical therapist.
Continuing to engage with family, friends and your community is an important factor in staying healthy. Being social can help manage any feelings of fear and improve mental and physical abilities. Overall, it can drastically improve a senior’s quality of life.
Source: Choose PT website