SAIL center welcomes new peoplePublished 2:00am Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Every morning, a small crowd gathers at the East Brewton SAIL Center to share a few games of dominoes or bingo, as well as a hearty lunch and a lot of fellowship.
Their numbers have grown in recent weeks after the Brewton Nutrition Center discontinued its lunch, which was previously served at St. Maurice Catholic Church.
The Brewton Nutrition Center’s meals were funded through the Escambia Mental Health Board, a private organization.
Emmie Jernigan, president of EMHB, said the decision to discontinue the program in Brewton came down to funding.
“It just came down to a dollars and cents situation,” Jernigan said. “Our funding has been cut and the decision to combine with East Brewton’s program just made sense for everyone.”
The EMHB will continue to fund the meals for Brewton residents through the SAIL Center, Jernigan said, so the services will continue. While the EMHB is privately funded, the SAIL Center receives federal funding.
“What funding we have will be used to pay for the Meals on Wheels program for Brewton as well as for the driver to deliver the meals,” Jernigan said. “This is a good thing for our seniors since it broadens their circle of people and more activities.”
Sandra Nall, director for the East Brewton SAIL Center, said the new participants from Brewton are finding their place with others who regularly visit the center.
“We are really blessed here to have the funds to provide the services we have for our seniors and we are happy to have the Brewton seniors join us,” Nall said. “We are federally funded here and we are happy to keep the program going and continue to grow.”
Nall said Brewton participants began going to East Brewton in mid-October and have found their place in the group.
“We gave our Brewton residents their own table and they have come in and gotten involved in some of the activities we already had going here,” Nall said. “We have 10 or 12 people from Brewton coming every day and that puts us at around 45 participants on a normal day.”
In addition to offering social activities and a noon meal, the East Brewton SAIL Center is continuing to serve the Meals on Wheels clients for both East Brewton and Brewton residents.
“We certainly want to make sure that everyone who needs to be served by Meals on Wheels continues to get that service,” Nall said. “Butch (Preyear) was the driver who delivered the meals to Brewton residents and now he’s doing it for all of our Meals on Wheels people.”
Preyear, who had worked at the Brewton center for several years, said he is happy to be a part of the East Brewton group.
“It’s nice to have a facility that’s just for the senior citizens,” Preyear said of the East Brewton site. “We are grateful to the St. Maurice folks for the use of their facility, but this is a nice facility here.”
Preyear said he hopes that Brewton seniors will be able to join the group in East Brewton for more than just a meal.
“There are so many activities going on here almost all the time,” Preyear said. “This group goes on trips and has speakers come in. It’s really nice to have that.”
Jernigan said the use of the St. Maurice Catholic Church parish hall was a blessing the group enjoyed for many years.
“We owe St. Maurice Catholic Church a huge thanks,” Jernigan said. “They have been so accommodating for all these years and never complained. We are thankful to them for the use of their facility for our seniors.”
Nall said regular activities — mostly at the leadership of participants — include Bible study, various games and even a clothes closet.
“There is a group of people here who play dominoes most every morning,” Nall said. “The group from Brewton play Skip-Bo and they are trying to teach some of our East Brewton people how to play the game. The people here have set up a clothes closet on their own that they donate to and choose from when they have a need or know someone who has a need. We have a couple here that holds a Bible study class each week, and Friday is bingo day. We try to have something different every day to either have some fun or to provide information that would be helpful to our seniors who come here.”
Nall said speakers are invited to present information on topics including Medicare, social security, health care and any subject requested by participants.
Nall said many of the programs and activities are possible because of work and dedication of officials and friends of the center.
“Mayor (Terry) Clark has been so good to us and sees that we have what we need,” Nall said. “Commissioner Raymond Wiggins also makes sure that we have something special around the holidays, too. He and his wife just gave us a nice Thanksgiving dinner. We have some really good people who make sure the center is taken care of in so many ways.”
With quarterly trips planned for the group, Nall said antique hunting or shopping for bargains has become a popular event for the group.
“All of these things have been going on for a long time here,” Nall said. “The people before me made this center good. I’m just carrying on.”