B.E.E.S. (Busily Enjoying Everyday Seniors) Senior Citizens, Inc. has been helping seniors in Paragould for more than 45 years. This year, despite all its challenges, is no different.
During normal operation, B.E.E.S. provides transportation services, congregate meals, and social opportunities to senior citizens in Greene County. Activities like bingo, card games, bean bag baseball, Wii Bowling, and quilting would fill the days of seniors at the center. But since March 13, 2020, the center has only been able to allow staff into the building.
"None of us have lived through something like this before," said Carol Fleszar, Executive Director at B.E.E.S. Senior Citizens, Inc. "When we closed on that Friday, there were tears shed. They didn't know what they were going to do for two weeks. We thought we were just going to be closed for two weeks."
Although B.E.E.S. is still providing food and transportation services, the lack of socialization due to COVID has negatively affected many seniors.
"Isolation is not a good thing. It's depressing to some of them (senior citizens). Some of them are losing a lot of their strength that they had because they aren't up and moving around like they were," Carol said.
In the months since March, Carol and the staff at B.E.E.S. have come up with creative solutions to continue serving seniors. An island in the middle of the parking lot serves as a makeshift grab-and-go, where meals are served to seniors daily. According to Carol, anywhere from 45 to 50 seniors drive through each day.
"I have to tell you, I never thought I would see the day when I would get in my car, drive to the parking lot, make a circle, and get food, and that is now what I look forward to every day," said one Senior B.E.E.S. participant.
Through generous donations, the staff at Senior B.E.E.S. have been able to provide some extra items to go with the grab-and-go meals -- fruit, chicken noodle soup, paper goods, hot chocolate, peppermints, and Moon Pies. For now participants enjoy their daily grab-and-go meals and their brief interactions with B.E.E.S. staff through their car window, but they hope for a day when they can safely eat with friends again at B.E.E.S. Senior Citizens, Inc.