Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Parker Senior Center is keeping its doors closed but still looking for creative and safe ways to bring its community together.
That’s why staff and volunteers held a drive-in bingo tournament for members on Sept. 23. About 30 senior center members pulled up in their vehicles that afternoon, ready for several rounds of socially distanced bingo.
Some stayed in their vehicles while others pulled out lawn chairs and set up camp in the parking lot, wearing masks and keeping several feet apart from friends. “Bingo!” they shouted while honking their horns to signal win.
Running the prizes to each round’s winners was Donna Foerster, a volunteer with the center. Foerster said the center is focused on finding outdoor activities and she was glad to see people come out and have fun during the pandemic.
“Our doors might be closed but our hearts are open,” Foerster said.
Valerie Guyot, a center member, wore a warm smile as she sat with two friends in lawn chairs in the center parking lot, having already won cash and prizes after a few rounds. Guyot said it felt great to get out.
“I think it’s good because we need to socialize — us old people need socialization,” she said, marking her bingo card.
The center’s director, Jan Dengal, said that’s exactly what she hoped to provide through the event — a way for seniors to escape the isolation of COVID-19.
“That they can just get out of their house in a safe manner,” she said.
Dengal said shutdowns forced by COVID-19 have been difficult for their 650 members — especially the temporary closure of the senior center to indoor activities.
“For most of these people, this is their home away from home,” she said.