Fifty years ago, the first nutrition center in the State of Alabama opened at the Scottsboro Senior Center and the Jackson County Council on Aging celebrated the milestone with a packed house on Tuesday, Sept. 26.
“This marked a new way of life for hundreds of Jackson County senior citizens,” said Chad Coleman, director of the Jackson County Council on Aging.
Linda Larcom, the nutrition program coordinator, said the meals program got off the ground because of the tireless efforts of its founder, Rita Williams Glasz, who was honored at the celebration with a plaque of appreciation.
“It’s hard to believe it’s been that long,” Rita said. “I remember going out and knocking on doors and finding seniors. We didn’t have computerized things like we do now to go by, so I had to go out and collect names of individuals by going door to door. I visited with people and invited them to come to the center.”
She was met with skepticism, curiosity, and excitement.
“How on earth are you going to bring food from Huntsville to a center over here and it be any good?” she remembers some people asking her. But on opening day, Sept. 26, 1973, people showed up.
“We had what looked like a trail of ants coming up the sidewalk with all of the seniors walking from different parts around the neighborhood,” Rita recalled. “Volunteers also brought people in, and we had a room full … there was so much excitement about the thoughts of what might happen in the future with the center.”
That future included everything from presenting people with birthday cakes, for some, the first ones they’d ever had. They also took trips, for many it was their first time to leave Scottsboro.
“They got to participate in fashion shows, dress up for Halloween, learn to dance, just things they had never had an opportunity to do,” Rita said. “Most didn’t drive and had never worked; all they had ever done was stay home and take care of their family, so it was a real exciting time.”
On a personal note, she said her grandmother was there on opening day and enjoyed it so much that it became what she looked forward to each day.
“Twenty-five years later, my mother participated, and it became what she looked forward to and now, 25 more years later, I’m eligible to participate and I get to enjoy the activities too,” Rita said. “That’s why I ask you all to continue to support our centers because one of these days your kids or even grandkids may get to participate and enjoy activities at the senior center,”
Linda said Scottsboro was the first to have a Nutrition Center but others in Jackson County followed, including:
- Stevenson Senior Center, Sept. 27, 1973
- Paint Rock Senior Center, Oct. 17, 1977
- Bridgeport Senior Center, Oct. 17, 1977
- Pisgah Senior Center, March 1, 1978
- Bryant Senior Center, Oct. 1, 1996
Sitting through the ceremony, TARCOG Executive Director Michelle Jordan said she reflected on the importance of senior centers and how they fill a void in people’s lives as they age.
“It’s a real important part of who we become if we’re fortunate enough to be able to age in a way that allows us to still be mobile and to still interact with our friends,” Michelle said. “This center has been meeting those companionship, friendship, nutrition, exercise, physical and mental health needs for 50 years and it is quite an accomplishment. A golden anniversary is certainly something to celebrate.”
She said like gold being heated and molded into an object of significance, the Scottsboro Senior Center “has been heated and molded into something beautiful and I’m so glad TARCOG gets to play a role in meeting the needs of Jackson County and the Scottsboro Senior Center and I hope we’re in partnership for the next 50 years.”