The Hancock County Senior Center
- by Gus Duda
If you are 60 years of age or have someone in your family who is, and you are a resident of Hancock County you need to know about the Hancock County Senior Center.
My name is Gus Duda and I am most assuredly a senior citizen, 95 years young to be exact. We moved to Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi from Alexandria, Virginia and I have loved almost everything about the Bay.
I was not happy to find that public transportation is not what I was used to. In Alexandria I could hop on a bus and go to the store or pharmacy or library. In Bay Saint Louis I am dependent on others for transportation.
Those who have errands to do or appointments to keep get a ride on the bus. Jimmy my usual driver is an employee of Coastal Transportation Service and a tremendous asset to the center. Always patient, caring and fun to be around Jimmy knows how to make everyone feel welcome. After we have lunch we get a ride home on the bus.
I did some research on the center because I was not here from the beginning and I like knowing the history of things. The Center is located at the corner of Old Spanish Trail and Bookter Street in Bay Saint Louis. It was established in 1972 by May Beyer, grandmother of Chuck Benvenutti. Eve McDonald served as the Center’s director from 1972 to 1992. The Center was located in a small classroom in the Valencia C. Jones School. I heard that she had to beg around for tables and chairs and later as the Center grew they were given more space.
Arlene was hired in 1985 to do arts and crafts and did such a fantastic job and was so loved by the seniors that she was given the director’s job in 2001 after Rosine died. After Hurricane Katrina I heard, the Center served as an emergency shelter in Bay Saint Louis. For about three months they provided food, clothes and shelter for more than 175 people. The building did get damaged during the storm. Repairs were made thanks to insurance proceeds and FEMA. Through Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds, the Center was able to expand, adding a dining area, an indoor walking track, and additional storage.
Today, the Center provides nutritious hot food for lunches, a place for the expression of art and companionship. We are about 40 people of various backgrounds sharing a meal, laughter and stories. We are taken good care of by Arlene, Trish, Jimmy and Michael, our chef and all the volunteers. It is nice to be out during the day and to have something to talk about when I get home.
If you are 60+ and would like to join us, we would love to have you. Just call the Center at 228.467.9292 or pop in at 601 Bookter to sign up. I’ll see you there.