It's 3 am. Already the kettles are simmering with the days meals that will be served to the some 800+ Terrebonne's elderly that day, served either congregate style at one of five lunch sites or delivered directly to Terrebonne's home bound citizens.
By 4:30 am, the first buses and vans leave the Operation Center on Tunnel Boulevard in Houma to pickup elderly in the farther reaches of the parish in time to get them to dialysis or other medically essential appointments. By 6:30 the nutrition vans go the Courthouse Annex to begin picking -up the meals from the kitchen and to begin their routes. By 8:30 the parking lot at the Operation Center is nearly clear of all of the other vans and buses as they begin their routes to either deliver meals or transport elderly clients to numerous appointments and locations.
As the transportation tasks get fully underway, the council's five senior centers open their doors to a waiting group of friends who gather each weekday for camaraderie, hot coffee and some good conversation. Of course the home style, freshly prepared meals that will be ready to be served at the four lunch sites, located in senior centers, around 11 am are also rumored to be part of the draw. (The fifth lunch site is independent and is housed at the East Park Recreation Center).
With lights on and doors open, friends break out the cards for hotly contested games of pedro and others, grab a paint brush to touch up a ceramic masterpiece, sit in pleasant conversation while creating heirloom quality quilts or strap on their sneakers to join in exercise classes that we bet some of the younger crowd might have a hard time to keeping up with.
Many a day at a center is also a call for celebration with full-blown birthday parties complete with cake, party favors, prizes, live music and dancing.
Exciting as they are, the centers are just a small part of the day. Shady Lane Apartments offers 49 new and modern apartments with one of the most beautiful and serene parks and walking tracks just steps outside the door.
Still there is so much more to the day as the council's program kick in to broker assistance with prescriptions, calling those who are shut in, providing personal care and housekeeping or giving a breather to family members and caregivers through in home respite - just to name a few.
Advocacy for the elderly, cooperative engagement with local emergency operations, sheriff and DA and work at the regional, state and national level are all part of the day as well.
As evening falls, the day finally slows down, but only long enough to gear up for another day.
Busy though it may be, a day in service to our elderly is a great day indeed.
"When the great people of the Good Earth Parish get together, great things happen".