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Senior center waiting until time to reunite

CHESAPEAKE — It has been five months since members of the Sybene-Chesapeake Senior Center have met in person.

Director Darlene Green said they have been closed since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March and all affiliated events have been canceled.

The center typically hosts a community dinner each month at First Baptist Church in Proctorville, which is a popular, with a many as 150 attending.

“We haven’t has one of those since March,” she said.

And the annual Senior Day at the fairgrounds in May tends to draw hundreds of attendees, as well as dozens of vendors.

Green said they initially considered holding the Senior Day in September, but ultimately decided against it, as cases were spiking at the time planning would have to begin.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine recently announced plans for senior centers to reopen in September, though Green said she does not think this would be possible for her location, as the modular unit at the Chesapeake Community Center is compact and makes social distancing difficult.

Green said they are afraid that hosting events could create a hot spot of cases against a vulnerable population and she does not want to risk that.

In the meantime, she said she is keeping up with their members, who number about 60, through Facebook.

“And the ones who don’t have Facebook, I call to see if they need anything,” she said.

Green said the senior center is a “very close” community and the time apart has been hard, especially as they have lost two members this summer.

“We lost two in a week,” she said. “I told everyone, when we meet again, we’ll do something to honor them.”

Plans are under way and money has been approved by the Ohio Legislature for a new center to be built at the Lawrence County Fairgrounds in the future.