Next to town officials and members of the Roseboro Senior Center, manager Gilbert Owens was happy to hold large scissors as he stood on the front porch of the building.
With a quick snip of a ribbon, the community celebrated another milestone in the town’s history with the grand opening of the center, located at 206 NE Railroad St. In June, Owens was notified by the Sampson County Department of Aging that the location from a nutrition site to a senior center. This brings more services and more hours of operation.
“This is the day that the Lord has made,” Owens said Friday before the ribbon cutting. “We will rejoice and we will be glad in it.”
The joy was made possible through Lorie Sutton, leader of the Sampson County Department of Aging, who notified Owens about the good news. The change has been a goal of Owens’ since 2011. Now as a center, its eligible to receive more grants and funding from state officials and transportation for seniors for essential needs such as visiting a doctor. While talking about the history, which involved assistance from several people and organizations, Owens said “the Lord was preparing for this day.”
Some of those people or organizations included Marie Faircloth of the Garland Senior Center, the Roseboro Fire Department, Roseboro United Methodist Church, St. Thomas AME Zion Church, the Charles E. Perry school building and Linda Armwood, nutrition program manager for Sampson County Department of Aging sites.
Armwood said it was a privilege to be at the ceremony and said she is excited about the change. Along with the department, she also credited the Sampson County Board of Commissioners, Mid-Carolina Council of Governments, the Town of Roseboro and Percy Owens for purchasing the building.
“We’re planning some great things in the coming days,” Armwood said. “We want the fellowship to continue just as it was when it was a four-hour program. It’s now a six-hour program, which allows us to be more engaged and for us to to do more activities.”
With the additional hours, the sites will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Some of the services included guest speakers, classes, trips and a variety of activities. The senior site has been around in Roseboro for many years and receives visits from about 30 seniors each day. Another 18 receive assistance from the home-bound program. Before the change, it was one of six nutrition sites, with Garland having the only senior center.
The location and the group went through several hurdles in recent years. In September 2016, the senior program had to leave their location on Railroad Street because of vandalism and required repairs. The program went to several locations before they returned to the building, which was purchased by Percy Owens in 2017. A month later, they moved back.
Along with a ribbon cutting, the grand opening featured prayer by Lonnie Fennel, the reading of Psalm 23, memorial tributes, a solo sung by Shaneka Murphy and a group performance by the Shaneka Murphy Singers, a quartet of children.
Mayor Alice Butler was one of many officials present at the celebration.
“It’s awesome that the seniors are able to come and enjoy the fellowship,” she said. “They really need that and that’s important for them. I’m just so thrilled that they actually have a place they can come.”
She remembered when Owens came before town commissioners and made a request for the building to become a senior center. The board gave their blessings with a resolution.
“Sometimes it takes awhile for things to come,” Butler said, “but it’s wonderful to see that this is finally come to fruition.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.