by Bobby Anderson, Staff Writer
The fishing line hit the water at Lake Hefner and a Lisa Sydnor teared up.
The senior programs manager for The Salvation Army Central Oklahoma couldn’t help but getting a little misty-eyed watching the collection of senior men fishing from the docks on a picturesque June morning.
“It makes me cry,” Sydnor said. “The people that we are serving the majority of them live on virtually nothing. Can you imagine living on $750 a month? For them to be able to do something that they can enjoy and relax and they don’t have to worry about how much it costs …”
The Salvation Army Central Oklahoma recently received an $11,600 grant from the Oklahoma City Community Foundation and its Wellness Initiative grant program.
The grant will be used to assist in funding senior men’s activity programs, which will allow The Salvation Army to increase its level of service to men at their five senior centers.
On this morning everything was paid for and all the men had to do was reel in the striped bass.
The Salvation Army received the funding the third week of June and by the end of the month Oklahoma City seniors were already dipping their lines into Lake Hefner and pulling out fish.
Sydnor said The Salvation Army received a similar elder grant last year that centered around dance instruction.
“Lots of ladies enjoyed that. We had a great time and a great turnout but the guys didn’t participate,” she said. “They don’t really participate (overall). The focus of this grant was to identify things men would enjoy.”
The funding has helped purchase all needed fishing gear and tackle plus the cost of permits.
“We wanted to find things our seniors could participate in and enjoy and get out. The more you’re out and the more you do the better your are, the better you feel and the better your health is. Our goal is to get our men up and moving.”
Leatherworking and woodworking classes are planned for July and August.
“As we evaluated our activities at the senior centers, we discovered the men’s interest and participation was significantly lower than the women’s,” Sydnor said. “We are so pleased to receive this grant as it will allow us to provide the activities our senior men have told us they want.”
The Wellness Initiative grant will fund wood and leather craft kits; sports equipment for pool, darts, indoor golf and horseshoes; fishing equipment; and, tickets to sporting events. By providing these activities, The Salvation Army strives to increase participation of both men and women in their senior programs.
The Salvation Army Central Oklahoma operates five senior centers throughout the Oklahoma City metro. The centers are open every weekday to seniors ages 55 and older. Seniors have the opportunity to socialize, enjoy lunch and participate in numerous activities that include Bible study, exercise classes, crafts, dancing and much more.
Sydnor said the program is available at no charge to seniors.
Approximately 139,000 Oklahomans receive assistance from The Salvation Army Central Oklahoma Area Command each year through the broadest array of social services that range from providing food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless and opportunities for underprivileged children.
For more information on the programs and services at The Salvation Army Central Oklahoma, please visit www.salvationarmyokcac.org.
If you would like more information on the centers or other programs you can contact Sydnor at her office at 405-246-1120.
Centers are open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday. On Fridays the centers are open 8 a.m. until noon. Coffee and snacks are served each morning with lunch at 11:30.
“The best way to plug into a center is just to call us. We can tell you where all the centers are,” Sydnor said.