Margaret Reilly, 89, is a walking testimonial for the Gulfport Multipurpose Senior Center. “It’s the spice of my life,” she says. “Whatever you want to do is there.” Margaret should know since she has volunteered at the Center for more than 25 years. She was named Volunteer of the Year in 1986.
These days Margaret is the Center’s “card lady.” She volunteers two hours a day to maintain the rack of like-new greeting cards for sale in the Senior Center lobby. Before that she staffed the Center’s information desk for 25 years.
When Margaret’s husband died a month after their move to Gulfport from Dearborn, MI, she was left with a car but no driver’s license. “I had to do something,” she said. Her mother and her aunt were both members of the Senior Citizen Club that met at the Gulfport Casino, so she got involved.
After the current Senior Center was built in 1983, Margaret’s first volunteer job was maintaining a seasonal bulletin board with her aunt Ann Howay. She also got started by helping with the telephone Reassurance program. For ten years, Margaret was one of 16 Ukelele Ladies who performed at mobile home parks, nursing homes and malls all over Pinellas County. Their colorful singing and dancing act was even featured in The Gabber, the St. Petersburg Times and on local TV. As a member of the now disbanded Senior Center Craft Club, Margaret helped make Christmas stockings for disadvantaged children for five years. Now she plays canasta, visits the Fitness Center twice a week and participates in the Wii Fit group Thursday afternoons.
“There’s no reason for anybody to feel lonely,” Margaret says. “Everyone is so nice and so knowledgeable. I’ve learned a great deal being involved at the Senior Center.”
– by Amy Oatley, Community That Cares Newsletter Editor
EDITOR’S NOTE: Volunteering is good for your heart and your brain. Read this month’s issue of Community That Cares for ideas where you can help. Pick up your copy at the Senior Center or click here to read online.