Guelda Wooldridge loves games, parties, and serving others. In fact, these activities comprise most of her job at the Paducah/McCracken County Senior Center. Guelda, the center’s executive director, has held her position for 14 years. She has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in recreation, along with 20 years experience in church event planning in addition to her time at the senior center. She knows how to make sure a building is always full of life and laughter.
“It’s a joy,” she says. “I look at it really like a ministry. It’s my ministry to be here and to be with these people and to be doing what I do.”
A nonprofit organization, the center exists to provide services to area seniors that help them maintain their independence and dignity, according to its website. Guelda says federal grants limit these services to residents ages 60 years or older, but the center provides a wide variety of programs for people in that range.
Under her supervision, the center serves lunch five days per week at the center facility, located at 1400 H.C. Mathis Drive in Paducah. Its Meals on Wheels program also serves food to homebound residents while its Elderly Homeowner Maintenance and Everyday Security (E-HOMES) effort ensures independent seniors can live in safe and secure housing. The organization’s long list of services continues, providing transportation assistance, health screenings and more.
Although managing these programs keeps her busy, Guelda says the seniors make her job very worthwhile.
“Senior individuals are so appreciative of what you do for them,” she says. “Any little party, any little activity we have, everybody’s smiling. They’re having a good time.”
Paducah Bank also makes her work a little easier. Guelda says not only has the bank donated furniture to ease the senior center’s expenses, but it has also sponsored events over the years. Several bank employees serve on the center’s board of directors, helping to guide the nonprofit and offering financial advice. During the second quarter of this year, Paducah Bank employees donated several hours of time serving lunch to seniors at the center as part of the bank’s “Swipe and Serve” initiative. At the conclusion of the second quarter, the senior center also received a check for $8,219 from this initiative that seeks to support local organizations that are dedicated to feeding the hungry in Paducah.
“They’re a great support for us—not just where we do our banking,” she says.
With this support, Guelda keeps the senior center parties going. She says it’s a joyful place that offers fun in addition to food, transportation and health screenings. The staff and seniors enjoy numerous events and try to celebrate as many holidays as they can—even obscure ones like National Wear Your Apron Day. They also get together throughout the week for various classes such as ballroom dancing, line dancing, crochet, and art, or they head off occasionally on trips.
Most importantly, Guelda and the people at the center are laughing and playing together—as a community that enjoys fellowship.
Anyone age 60 or older who is interested in getting involved is invited to stop by the Paducah/McCracken County Senior Center on H.C. Mathis Drive or call its office at 270-443-8579. The community there is always open to new friends.