By CATHY MOUNCE
Register Staff Writer
It has been 13 years since Carolyn Castleberry accepted the position as director of the Stanford House Senior Center (Stanford House) in Gainesville and the center will celebrate her efforts with an appreciation reception Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. A presentation to Castleberry is set at 11 a.m. The public is welcome to come and go to show their appreciation and refreshments will be served.
“I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I accepted the position in 2000,” Castleberry said. “But I have been rewarded many times over through the friendships I have made with many of the citizens of Gainesville and the surrounding area.”
The Stanford House was the dream of longtime resident Mattie Bell Stanford who left instructions in her 1989 will to open a facility for seniors in the area dedicated to the memory of her husband A.T. Stanford.
The center, owned by the Stanford House trust was built on city property and opened its door in 1992. It currently has a 35-year lease with the city.
Castleberry said when she came on board in 2000 that the center had not even been processed for its 501(c) (3) tax exempt status as a non profit organization.
“Coming from a banking background I knew how important it was to get all the paperwork set,” she said. “The first two years I was here were very hectic.”
Castleberry, president of the Stanford House board of trustees, said that as mandated, the mayor and city council of Gainesville round out the trustees for the center and the board meets annually.
“I am very thankful for what we receive and I pray over our budget each year. So far we are blessed each year and have wonderful giving volunteers that make all the difference,” she said.
The Stanford House currently receives $10,000 a year from the city in four $2,500 increments.
Dependent on donations and fundraisers for operations, the Stanford House raises money through events such as the annual automobile raffle held each September.
Tickets for the vehicle drawing will be available in July.
Other funding of the center is raised through creative ways such as the gift store that has raised over $40,000 since Castleberry initiated it after becoming director.
“The items sold at the gift store are all donated and the prices and are really nice and reasonably priced,” Castleberry continued.
Other money making activities include events such as the recent style show luncheon, weekly breakfast sponsored by local businesses, cake sales, and efforts of the Stanford House quilters and other senior activities.
Our quilting group has earned over $25,000 making quilts. They meet on Tuesday and Thursday mornings and they actually have a waiting list for prospective buyers,” she said.
The center averages 60 individuals each week who come to enjoy the activities.
There are 48 volunteers who serve the center.
The Stanford House has a large number of programs available each week.
Activities include painting, exercise classes, walking, dominoes, 42, line dancing, quilting, table games, Pegs and Jokers, country and western dances, The Time Out programs, bingo, canasta, sand bag baseball, and bridge.
One thing Castleberry didn’t count on when she became director of the center was the friendships and relationships with those who come to the Stanford House.
“First time visitors are a bit unsure when they walk in the door, perhaps after the loss of a lifelong partner,” she said. “But once they are here I start to see a sparkle return to their eyes and the center is a haven where they can come and be a part of something. It renews their lives.” she said.
“The center is more than just a place that I work at now. It has become part of me and each person that walks in that front door touches my life in some way. I feel so blessed to be able to serve our community.”
The Thursday appreciation reception honoring Castleberry is sponsored by the following agencies; Ray of Sunshine Senior Care, Jordan Home Health, Renaissance Care Center, Home Hospice of Cooke County, Gainesville Daily Register, Hometown Pharmacy, River Valley Health and Rehab, Angels Home Health, Wheeler House and IntegraCare Home Health.
By CATHY MOUNCE
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