TEXAS CITY — Hundreds of local senior citizens gathered for the SeniorShare Program’s fifth annual Celebrate America event Wednesday, where prizes, food, education and laughs were freely shared to commemorate our nation’s upcoming birthday.
SeniorShare Program was founded by Kevin Yackly, owner of Grand Prize Barbeque in Texas City, as a way to bring seniors together and enjoy themselves rather than letting time pass by at home.
The event took place at Texas City’s Nessler Center at 10:30 a.m. and was commenced through a prayer led by the Rev. Amos Sowell. It was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and a unified singing of the national anthem, “God Bless America” and “Proud to be an American.”
Corp. Adolph “Corky” Velasco III of the Texas City Police Department then discussed the physical and emotional signs of elder abuse and how to report it.
He said bruises, abrasions and depression are all possible signs of abuse or neglect.
“The easiest thing you can do when you come across what you believe is abuse or neglect is to call us,” Velasco said. “A lot of people don’t want to get involved but once you call us, we will take care of it.”
Additionally, Fire Marshal Dennis Harris of the Texas City Fire Department attended the event to honor military veterans in the crowd with gift bags.
Furthermore, he shared tips for staying safe whether inside the home or outside under the summer sun. Topics included not smoking in bed, not leaving the kitchen unattended when cooking, exercising, having a smoke detector in every room and checking its batteries twice a year. The marshal also encouraged neighbors to call one another to prepare for hurricane season.
Yackly said fun and prizes brings everyone to the event, but he hopes seniors will remember the educational experience most.
Lunch was served soon after, consisting of Grand Prize Barbeque’s sloppy Joe sandwiches, beans, coleslaw and chips.
Prize drawings, which were donated by the 22 sponsors, were given away next. The majority of the prizes were gift cards to restaurants and entertainment spots, but a few lucky winners took home TVs, patio furniture, liquor, beer, wine, fishing equipment and an iPad Mini.
However, some of the grand prize drawing winners had a tough decision to make.
They could choose to keep their current prize or they could risk everything and opt to choose a mystery prize instead, Let’s Make a Deal-style.
Rebecca Shelton, 90, won a 32-inch Seiki TV, but her joy quickly turned to shock as she opted for the mystery box on stage. Inside the box was a man in a gorilla costume who then proceeded to run up and down the crowded aisles as the seniors hollered with cheers. Not wanting to disappoint Shelton, Yackly offered to let her keep the TV, which she did.
Although the SeniorShare Program’s events have been a huge success, Yackly hopes he can inspire others so seniors will soon have a club of their own where they can meet every night.
“My biggest hope for the future is one big company out there is going to finance a senior citizen center for the night time, like a senior citizen club of Texas City or Galveston County,” he said. “We’re hoping someone will donate the funds to build it complete with a computer center, complete with a workout center.
“I want to try to be an example and get people to follow my example, because I do it for a hobby. My hobby is helping people. A lot of people go hunting, boat riding. I’m applying for grants for grand prizes.”
The next scheduled event is the Holiday Gala at the Charles T. Doyle Convention Center on Dec. 17.