Seniors get 'crafty' during center's free classes

The Frank Bailey Senior Center, in Riverdale, offers a free arts and crafts class, Tuesday through Thursday, for members of the center.

On Wednesday, seniors citizens gathered to make beaded necklaces and bracelets for their counterparts at the Charley Griswell Senior Center, according to Debbie Stanley, program coordinator of the Bailey Senior Center, at 6213 Riverdale Road. "Today, we are making bracelets and necklaces to stuff in stockings for Christmas," Stanley said.

Seniors from the congregate meals program, at the Griswell Center, visit members of the Frank Bailey Senior Center once a month, and participants in the arts and crafts class make the necklaces and bracelets for them, according to Mindy French, program manager at the center.

The arts and crafts class is led by Emma Hall, a former hairstylist, and long-time lover of arts and crafts. "I was a hairdresser for 23 years, and I used to sell arts and crafts out of my shop," she said.

The class started in early August, with the idea to utilize donations given by individuals, and inventory from past years, according to Stanley. She added that it was a perfect opportunity, when Emma Hall came to volunteer, to take the donations and use them.

Beatrice Spencer, a regular attendee, explained that the class started with about three or four people, and as it continued, more people started to join.

Participants said they enjoy the activities, and the fellowship with friends. "I did not always do this [beading]. It's mind-relaxing for me," said Susie Marshall. "At first, I didn't like it, but now I can't get away from it."

The class, which normally lasts from 12:30 p.m., until 1:30 p.m., often goes over because the participants enjoy the activities so much, according to the class' instructor. "We go over, sometimes, because they [ participants] don't want to leave," Hall said.

Many of the participants described the experience of creating the craft items as calming. "I am able to release my creativity. It is relaxing," said Thomasine Randolph. "I get in the class, and zone out, and before you know it, it's time to go."

The senior students have made wooden purses, painted fruit trays, as well as the beaded bracelets and necklaces. Program Coordinator Debbie Stanley said, if participants make one craft for the seniors at the Griswell center, they can then make one for themselves.

Future activities for the class include making wreaths, center pieces, and baskets wrapped with lace, to hold decorative towels.