Lee County Multi-Purpose for the Elderly is open to county residents over the age of 60.
The main office is in Tupelo, and satellite offices are in Pratts, Saltillo and Verona. In addition to transportation and recreation opportunities, the program provides meals to homebound seniors.
Get the facts by calling (662) 841-9004.
When people get a little older and a little slower, they still have options.
Sam Fay, 77, of Tupelo, could spend most of his days at home with his dog, Minnie Mouse.
“I call her ‘Miss Minnie,’” he said. “She’s something.”
No matter how entertaining the pooch is, Fay still wants human contact. He gets it at the Lee County Multi-Purpose for the Elderly’s recreation center on Cliff Gookin Boulevard in Tupelo.
“I don’t drive at all, so they pick me up,” he said. “Just about every day, I’m here, unless I’m sick and the doctor tells me not to.”
The center opened in the mid-1970s, and gives Lee County seniors a place to hang out from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday to Friday.
“We have satellites in the county in Pratts, Verona and Saltillo,” said Shelton Shannon, director of Lee County Multi-Purpose for the Elderly. “People from the satellites all come here when we have special events.”
One such party will be a Spring Fling on Thursday. Everyone’s invited to wear their ugliest T-shirt or hat. Fay has a hat he made from scraps when he worked at a pillow factory, so he’s covered.
“They said you couldn’t make a hat out of that stuff,” he said, “but I showed them.”
The program is funded by Three Rivers Area Agency on Aging and the Lee County Board of Supervisors. It’s open to seniors 60 and older. There are regular blood pressure checks, and lunch is provided each day.
“The center does nice things for us. They pick up our medicine, take us to the doctor and take us to the grocery store,” said Eula Baker, a Tupelo resident who refused to give her age because it might hurt her chances of getting a boyfriend.
Baker and others who enjoy singing pay some of those good things forward.
“We go to the nursing home and sing to the people there,” she said. “That’s once a month.”
During a typical day, a TV plays in the corner of the main meeting room, but it’s not the center of attention.
Baker was searching through a hymnal, pausing to sing and hum quietly every so often.
Fay sat in his favorite spot, a recliner that he said was positioned in the coolest and warmest location, depending on the season.
“I just sit here and hang out,” he said.
People played dominoes, worked puzzles and made crafts. Some played on two pool tables in the back room.
“I usually do puzzles for a while, then I do crosswords or something else,” said Estelle Edwards, 71, of Verona. “I ride an exercise bike for about 30 minutes each day.”
Recently, she was working a tough puzzle with Annie Lyons, 74, of Tupelo. They were trying to get pieces in place to reveal an English garden.
“Being here is always better than sitting and looking at the four corners of your walls, you know that,” Edwards said.
“It keeps me from being at home every day,” Lyons said.
Nora Campbell is from Ohio and spends part of her time in Tupelo with her daughter. She’s 80 years old and volunteers at the center to teach crafts.
Her students have made holiday decorations and put together decoupage projects. The latest craft involves breaking off pieces of old plates to create mosaics.
“All of them tell me they can’t do anything. They don’t have any artistic ability,” Campbell said. “But it’s surprising what they do.
“The guys get into it, too. All of the men, really, but they usually wait until the girls are done.”
Campbell has watched new visitors slowly come out of their shells at the center. One man spent his first month on a couch watching TV and keeping to himself, then an impulse moved him to the dominoes table where he’s become a regular fixture.
In addition to meals, health screening, trips to the doctor and all-important camaraderie, anecdotal evidence suggests the center offers time.
“This place probably gave 10 or 15 more years to my daughter’s mother-in-law,” Campbell said. “Before she came here, she was living alone in a little house between Vardaman and Houston, not doing anything.”
She got involved with people at the center, and went on to become a horseshoe champion and traveled to regional competitions.
“Can you imagine? She came here and started to get up and started to move,” Campbell said. “It really meant a lot to her.”
No one can guarantee 10 or 15 years to a senior, a newborn baby or anyone else. Life doesn’t work that way.
One of the regulars at the dominoes table died recently. Campbell said it was shocking, how sudden the vibrant, alert woman simply wasn’t there anymore.
“You don’t expect it,” she said. “You really don’t.”
The center has no magic to offer, but it will continue to get people out of their homes and give them something to do. The staff will make sure the food’s hot and the medicine’s picked up. Clients will have their roles to play, too.
“We get along together. We care about each other,” Eula Baker said with a nod, as she rocked in her favorite chair. “That’s the truth.”