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Helping seniors: Organizations honored for efforts

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By John Barnhart

The Bedford area annually honors citizens and organizations that have done a great deal to help elderly people. This year the Award of Recognition Benefactors of the Elderly (ARBE) award, presented at Elderfest, went to the Bedford Moose Lodge and Andy Dooley.

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    Lana Obenchain, of Bedford County’s parks and recreation department, stated when presenting the Moose Lodge’s award that the lodge has allowed the parks and recreation department to use its facility every month for Senior Bingo for the last eight years. They also let the department hold Elderfest in their facility.

    May is “Older Americans’ Month” and Elderfest is held every year on the first Thursday and Friday of that month. In addition to making their facility available for the event, the lodge supplies snacks on Thursday evening and donates money for door prizes.

    Obenchain said that the parks and recreation department holds a number of other events at the lodge for elderly residents such as seasonal dances and weekly card games. The lodge provides its facility for all of these events at no cost to either the city or the county.

    The award was presented on behalf of both the county and the city’s parks and recreation departments as well as the Elderfest committee. behalf of the both the county and the city’s parks and recreation departments as well as the Elderfest committee.

    Dooley  was nominated by Huddleston Senior Citizens. They noted his service on the Central Virginia Area Agency on Aging board of directors and his involvement with Bedford Ride. Their nomination also pointed to his long-term service on the Elderfest Committee.

    This year’s Elderfest also included a T’ai Chi presentation by Steve Garay, a local certified T’ai Chi instructor.

    Garay said that T’ai Chi is a Chinese martial art that dates back 2,000 years. Along with its self-defense aspect, Garay said that it also provides a health and wellness benefit. He said he has taught it to people in their 70s and noted a substantial improvement in balance and flexibility in a 75-year-old student. Garay said that he can teach T’ai Chi to any person of any age or physical ability.

    The self-defense demonstration that Garay put on illustrated defensive moves with a cane. He said that the great part of the cane is that it can be carried anywhere and is non-threatening. However, with a little knowledge, a person can use it as an effective defensive weapon.

    Garay is one of several professionals working with a pilot program for cancer patients at the Bedford Area YMCA, called A Path to Healing.  T’ai Chi is one of the offerings of this program. Like the other professionals participating in the progarm, Garay is donating his time.

    Approximately 400 people attended this year’s Elderfest, according to event organizers.