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Awendaw Senior Center gets facelift

  • Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Motley Rice Project Go gives employees a chance to give back to their communities. Photo by Sully Witte

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The South Santee Senior and Community Center celebrated the grand opening of their second facility in April. It is called the Awendaw Center and is located in a former church right off Hwy. 17 North.

Serving 28 to 35 clients a day at the facility and more than 50 in their own homes, the second facility is a much-needed resource in the rural areas of McClellanville and Awendaw.

And while Executive Director Sheila Powell, her staff and army of volunteers are busy helping local seniors five days a week, folks from Motley Rice Law Firm helped the senior center.

Named “Motley Rice Project Go,” the mission is “Causes, not just cases,” and it gives employees a chance to give back to their communities.

Motley Rice Project Go coordinators solicit proposals and select projects that have the most need. May 1 and May 8 are work days for the volunteer employees who came out in force to the senior center to construct wide walkways for seniors to use to enter and exit the facility.

The Awendaw Senior Center is situated on a large piece of land just off the highway and after heavy rains, there are often large mud puddles and uneven ground which can be dangerous for seniors to traverse while trying to use walkers and wheelchairs.

Tamarae Tabaka, executive assistant to Michael Elsner (charity committee chairman for Motley Rice), said that 13 employees came out last Thursday to construct the walkways and interact with the seniors by playing games and doing crafts.

The Greenery Inc. and Lowes also contributed to the project. Lowes helped defray the cost of the materials, while The Greenery Inc. of Charleston designed the layout of the walkways.

“This effort is a way for our employees to live out the mission of Causes not just Cases,” Tabaka said. The Motley Rice offices in New York and Rhode Island also participate in projects in their areas, she said.

The Awendaw Senior Center offers a variety of activities for seniors, from yoga to Bible study and computer science.

There is a small chapel on site available for family reunions, weddings and renewals of vows. And in addition to on-site services, the center provides a food pantry and meal delivery to home-bound seniors.

The new center also features a large activity room, a computer lab, a conference and activity room, a common area and a full-service kitchen.

Powell said that both centers come in under the South Carolina Office on Aging and are assisted by the Trident United Way and the Community Foundation via grants. Donations and volunteers are always accepted, she added. Food donations must be non-perishable and in brand-new condition.

The South Santee Senior and Community Center was begun by two nuns doing mission work in McClellanville in 1971. They saw the need for services for the aging population and with the help of supporters, the first center was opened. Powell has heard that one of the nuns is still living and hopes to contact her to show her what their initial idea has resulted in.

Current facility needs include computer-savvy volunteers to teach seniors as well as volunteers with physical activity experience.

A large-screen television is also needed to accommodate the poor eyesight of some of the clients.

The many clients the two centers serve also still enjoy serving their community. Every Thursday, a group goes to St. James Santee Elementary School to read to students. They stay active, Powell explained.

For more information, visit www.southsanteeseniorservices.org or call 843-546-2789.

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