Senior citizens reflect on pandemic as they gather for picnic

Published: Aug. 11, 2022 at 5:51 PM EDT
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TOWN OF GOUVERNEUR, New York (WWNY) - Senior citizens in St. Lawrence County were treated to lunch, dessert, and an eagerly-awaited annual gathering.

Nearly 300 people attended the Office for the Aging’s annual senior picnic. It was the first one since the Covid pandemic started - a time that was particularly hard on seniors.

“We have lost some people over the last 3 years. When we came back, we realized we lost some members because of COVID,” said Brenda Sanderson, president, St. Lawrence County Senior Citizen Council.

Some seniors were nervous, being the most vulnerable age group to COVID. For many, this picnic was their first big gathering since pre-COVID.

“The response has been fantastic. People are just happy. They are excited. It’s important to be able to reunite with long-lost friends,” said Andrea Montgomery, director, Office for the Aging.

“It seems good to have everyone back so that we can visit. That’s the main thing - visiting and getting to know people,” said Melaine Lewis, senior citizen.

COVID was still on some minds; 74-year-old Cynthia Denesha sat outside as a precaution. She says the pandemic is the most significant historical event she’s lived through.

“Thank God for the telephone is all I’ve got to say. Talked every day to lots of people. That’s how I’ve got through it personally,” she said.

Myrtle Butterfield is turning 93 next month; she says history prepared her for the pandemic.

“We adjust to situations. Don’t forget I’ve lived through TB, infantile paralysis, all of it. I’ve lived through it. I’ve been lucky too,” she said.

With some more luck, COVID will stay in the past. If all goes as planned, organizers hope to begin hosting multiple picnics a year.

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