Senior Chat Room Offers Chance at New Friendships and More in Gulfport
Every Friday afternoon at 2 p.m. older citizens living in Gulfport and surrounding communities come together for the Senior Chat Room at the Gulfport Multipurpose Senior Center. For many it has been an opportunity for learning, fun and new friendships.
“I really look forward to attending. I enjoy it a lot. It is a great opportunity to get to know people and I have met some wonderful people there.” - Hal Henton, 73
For more than a year a growing number of older residents living in Gulfport and surrounding communities have been gathering at the Gulfport Multipurpose Senior Center, 5501 27th Ave. S., every Friday afternoon at 2 p.m. for what many of them say is a very special time in their week. These senior-age men and women from a wide range of backgrounds, cultures and experiences come together to get to know and meet one another for a free, hour-long talk session known as the Gulfport Senior Chat Room.
The Chat Room is the creation of Carol R. Ehrenkranz. Carol is the owner of Rent-A-Hand, Inc., a business she has owned and operated for more than 20 years, which focuses heavily on helping seniors. The company does so by providing low-cost personalized services to those unable to do certain necessities around the home, such as handyman work or house cleaning.
She says in running her business time and again, “I have seen how lonely seniors are when they live by themselves. That is why all the senior (recreation) facilities in the area have excellent attendance because of their activities. The point of the chat room is to get seniors to do something with their day rather than sitting (home) and looking at the TV or out their windows. Socializing is wonderful for their brain and great for their self-esteem.”
Carol works to stimulate the minds of those who attend in various ways. She usually begins each session with a mind game. A typical one she uses is getting the members to answer what several terms she has written on room's large marker board have in common. In most cases, these seniors are “sharp” and quickly one or more shouts out the correct answer. This is followed up by sharing news items she has found that may be of special interest to them. One recent tidbit she offered was the fact that on Thursdays evenings the cost of admission to St. Petersburg’s new Dali Museum is only $10, about half the regular price.
Then to really get the discussion going she presents “a question of the day,” with almost anything as the subject. For example, at a recent senior chat session she asked, “What is the best one hundred dollars you ever spent?”
One response was taking out a group of girlfriends for a dinner with her picking up the tab. Another, from among the few men in the group, was making a bet on a Super Bowl and winning $4,000. Yet, for another it was the purchase a Miniature Schnauzer, who became her closest friend and companion for many years.
Needless to say, Carol’s question produced great discussion. And the kind of chatter a number of people who attend this weekly event try their best not to miss, because they love it. Ed Sweeney, 76, says, “I really like going. It a wonderful way to meet people and talk about old times, like my former life as a hobo. We joke. We laugh. It is a very congenial group and Carol is great running it.”
Joyce Waller, 67, concurs. “I really enjoy it. It gives me something worthwhile to do. I really like hearing about people’s experiences. Many of those who come have done a lot of traveling. I just love hearing about the trips they have taken. It beats being home alone.”
For further information on the weekly Gulfport Senior Chat Room contact Carol R. Ehrenkranz at (727) 347-3424 or via e-mail: email@example.com.