Seniors enjoy company at lunches

Meals served Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays at South Routt Community Center

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Dorotha Matteson, 95, calls herself the "old lady" at the lunch for South Routt seniors on Wednesday at the South Routt Community Center.

Does she enjoy it? "I guess -- I keep coming," she says with a laugh.

Matteson has been coming to the lunches and other activities for 25 to 30 years. Although she does not hear well anymore and can only read lips, she enjoys the company.

"I like to see people," she said. "I like people."

The food served is sometimes good, sometimes so-so, but the seniors are happy to "take it whichever way," Matteson joked.

Matteson has lived in Oak Creek since 1966. Her husband passed away about a decade after the couple moved here, and she has stayed in town. She doesn't have family in Oak Creek, but she does have family in Denver, where she and her husband moved from.

Matteson is one of a couple dozen seniors from the South Routt area who take part in the various events sponsored by the Routt County Council on Aging.

On Wednesday, the room started filling up at about 11:15 a.m. when the senior van delivered some of the lunch bunch. Pudding and cookies were passed around first, and some people started to munch while others waited for the main course.

"Just like a bunch of little kids," said Yolonda Critchlow, 80, as she ate her chocolate pudding.

Critchlow said that about 15 years ago, she decided to test her mother's saying that you shouldn't eat dessert first because it would ruin dinner. She went to a restaurant in Vail with some friends and ordered a fancy dessert first.

The result? "I started with dessert, (and) ruined my dinner completely," she said.

The conversation topics vary widely, Critchlow said.

"We were just talking about our dogs," she said. "We talk about everything -- kids, our pets, Medicare, the president."

Critchlow has lived in Oak Creek for a year and a half with her daughter, who works in Edwards. She has six children, and her daughter has six children, all of whom are grown.

Magdalen Edgar, 88, said the lunches provide an important social outlet because she has lived alone since being widowed 16 years ago.

"I talk to my dog all the time," she said.

Edgar has lived in Phippsburg for the past 65 years. Her husband worked for the railroad.

"I used to know everybody in Phippsburg, but anymore, I really don't. It's really changed," she said.

Robert Parker, 63, suffers from diabetes, so he has to be careful about what he chooses to eat. Wednesday's meal of meatballs and a sweet and sour pineapple sauce over rice is one of his favorites, he said.

"It's good food," Parker said.

Maxine Stefano, 77, the vice president for the Council on Aging, said the lunches incorporate holiday parties, games of Bingo or exercise class or other activities, and good visits.

"They really take good care of us," Maxine said.

Maxine and her husband, Rocco Stefano, lived across the country while Rocco was working for IBM. They came to Phippsburg in 1988, and eventually bought a home from Rocco's brother.

"To me, it's like a little piece of heaven," Maxine said.

The programs offered to seniors throughout the county are extremely important, Maxine said, because they help seniors stay independent and in their own homes for as long as possible.

"I think this is very important, because when you're isolated, you just don't keep up with what's going on," Maxine said. "I think you have a longer, more productive life when you're out among people."

"We're always looking for new people," Maxine said. "In this age group, why, you have a lot of losses, so we're always looking for someone to come in that's new."

Rocco also attends lunches and helps drive the senior van when needed.

Blaine Whaley said he tries to come three times a week, just to get out of the house and catch up with friends.

"You've got to eat anyway," he said.

Lunch is served to South Routt seniors at noon Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the South Routt Community Center.

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