Commentary, Local, Mauldin

Time to Retire

Taft Matney

In the early 1980s, I played soccer at City Park in Mauldin. At the time, Mauldin had a strong Rec soccer program, and even then, field space was a premium. I remember that early in my soccer career, there was a building under construction on the edge of the park. I didn’t really care what the building was because I was just there for the post-game snacks. Those orange slices were calling my name.

Fast forward to 2014. I was a newly-elected council member, and I got a phone call from Suzanne Underwood, the Senior Center Coordinator for the City of Mauldin. She told me about a theatrical group at the Senior Center called “The Elderberries” and asked if I’d be interested in a role in their next play. I wasn’t about to say, “No.” I said, “Of course!”

She realized very quickly that while I take some things seriously, I don’t take myself seriously. “Whatever you want me to do, I’ll do, Suzanne.” I told somebody just a couple of weeks ago, “I don’t say, ‘No,’ to Suzanne.”

This isn’t about me, though. This is about the seniors who don’t just visit but actively participate as the lifeblood of the Senior Center every day. As a fly on the wall, I sit there waiting on instructions while the center’s members write the scripts of the productions where I look like a goofball.

They collaborate, they feed off of each other, they laugh, they improve, and they keep making it better until showtime.

That’s only one of the programs Mauldin’s senior program offers, though, and that’s why approximately 4000 people participate in at least one of the center’s activities each month.

Their out-of-town trips in 2020 include: St. Augustine (April), Outer Banks (May), Asheville (June), Dahlonega, Ga (July), Pigeon Forge (Oct), Greenbrier, WV (Nov), and Biltmore (Dec).

The Senior Center offers in-house movies, seminars, continuing education courses, exercise classes, teas, dances, dinners, baseball games, specialty hobby classes (jewelry, leather, knitting), and more.

The Senior Center’s section in the city’s February newsletter gives a great snapshot of a typical month.

“AARP Tax preparation that began in February is nearly full, and they anticipate serving approximately 400 senior adults this tax season. Meanwhile, the Senior Center has begun a new adventure with Lunch Quest, taking a minibus to new restaurants and old favorites once a month. The Senior Center is also renaming its Teddy Bears group to Hearts & Hands, continuing its support of the Children’s Oncology Department of Prisma Health. The group provides surgery hats, surgery dolls, chemo pillows and children’s surgery gowns for the hospital.

“David Leaphart from NASA spoke to a large crowd about the International Space Station and Mars, sharing several NASA artifacts and fascinating information about space exploration.

“The Elderberries Drama Club is back in action with their next performance planned for April 24. The new sound system and wireless mics will help usher in a fresh new era of entertainment at the Senior Center. New hardware and software has also encouraged growth in efficiency at the facility, with registration for group classes and trips now available online at mauldinrecreation.com.”

Like I told my wife after reading the last Senior Center newsletter, I want to be retired.

— Taft Matney serves in Seat 1 on Mauldin city Council. He can be reached at tmatney@mauldincitysc.com.♣

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