[PHOTO: Clients of Rosedale and Glendale communities for the mentally retarded/developmentally disabled can now enjoy an optional retirement program. Clients who do retire spend their days with activities coordinators like Rob Barnes and Keisha Washington, shown standing, and take frequent trips out into the community and participate in a wide variety of activities during the day. - photo by Adam Armour]
By ADAM ARMOUR
Retirement: The pot of gold at the end of the very long rainbow. After years and years of hard work, retirement is the well-deserved rest.
Several clients of Glendale and Rosedale communities in Fulton are currently enjoying the benefits of a relatively new retirement program, the first of its kind in the area. Catering to the mentally retarded and developmentally disabled, the two communities are serving as testing grounds of sorts for a retirement program catered to their clients.
As part of the Oxford-based North Mississippi Regional Center, the success of the retirement program in these two local communities will determine whether or not the program spreads to other similar communities throughout north Mississippi.
So far, so good, said director Gary Norman, who has become increasingly enthusiastic about the program since its inception last July.
“They really do [seem to enjoy it],” Norman said. “I think [the program] will continue to spread throughout the system … The people we are working with are getting older … As they get into their late 50s and 60s, it’s time to think about retiring.”
Norman said that Glendale and Rosedale were chosen as the pilot locations for the program due to fairly large number of older clients living within them.
Retirement within the communities works a little differently than the norm. Clients, whose typical workday is from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Itawamba Industries, may choose to retire when they reach their mid-50s or so. Retirement is not permanent, as the retirees can choose to go back to work at anytime, for a little extra money or just because they enjoy working. Conversely, participants in the program can choose not to work whenever they like — the decision is theirs on a daily basis.
There are currently seven participants in the program, although due to the nature of the program this number changes frequently. According to Norman, there have been several clients who stopped working but decided that retired living simply isn’t for them.
Those who do stay retired spend their days engaged in a variety of activities: Trips to the movies, museums, bowling, arts and crafts, and going out to eat all help pass the time leisurely. Two activities coordinators, who watch over the clients during the day, are staffed by the communities and set up a myriad of things for the retirees to do.
According to Norman, it’s important to keep the retirees engaged and out in the community, which is why the retirement program is frequently on wheels and traveling throughout the area.
“We try to keep them very active,” Norman said. “We want to keep them out in the community as much as possible … We really want to make them a part of the community.”⍑