Locals make fishing wishes come true

Seniors from the Southwood Nursing Center enjoy fishing.

Residents from Southwood and Mary Gran Nursing centers took a day to enjoy fishing.

For a couple of days, a group of seniors enjoyed a little fishing and relaxation.

A group of community members recently invited the Mary Gran Nursing Center and the Southwood Nursing Center for the outing, which took place at a pond along U.S. 421, north of Clinton. Organizers Gene and Charlene Jacobs say they enjoyed watching the seniors and plan to host another outing Friday for the Garland Senior Citizens Center.

“This gives them the opportunity to get out that one day, relive their past and just have a good time,” Gene said about seniors who participate in the event.

Gene makes sure every senior catches a fish by placing buckets of water around the pond, to help keep the fish alive.

“It’s a guarantee,” Gene said. “If you come, you’ll catch a fish.”

The May event began 13 years ago when a veteran from Mary Gran made a request to go fishing. Kay Hobbs made his wish come true with the assistance of the Jacobs. Two years later, Southwood came on board. What started with just six patients has grown to about 50 people.

This year, Gene remembered an 80-year-old patient who caught a fish for the first time.

“She wanted us to take a picture of it and frame it,” Gene said with a chuckle about her wanting to have evidence. “She said ‘no one would ever believe me.’”

It was one of several stories about the annual outing shared by Gene. During the events, staff members from the facilities assisted the residents with activities and the fishing process.

“Not only do the patients get something out of it, the workers get a lot out of it too,” Gene said of the volunteers and caretakers. “For one day or four hours, they forget about the facility where they’re at and they’re free to just interact and have a good time.”

The event, food and fishing materials were donated by several community organizations, members and businesses. Some of them included Star Communications, New Bethel Baptist Church, Holly Grove Holiness Church, First Citizens Bank and Roscoe McNair.

“It’s just community people coming together, doing mission work for the nursing home residents who can’t get out,” Charlene said about the seniors enjoying a fishing trip.

Gene and Charlene say they are always accepting volunteers to help.

“We’re looking for more sponsors so we can keep it going,” Gene said. “The need is getting bigger. We had more people this year than we ever had.”

For more information or to volunteer, contact the Jacobs at 910-385-4618.

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