SPEAKING WITH Edith Bennett, director of the Savage Senior Center, is always a pleasure. She's a gracious lady.
The center offers a wide variety of activities to serve seniors: weekday lunches, social pastimes, educational opportunities, health screenings and leisure activities.
This month is no exception. An introduction to computers, by Computer Seniors of America, is scheduled.
The group offers hands-on computer education in a small-class format.
Bennett says space is available in the Wednesday class.
Line dancing and "Sittercise" - two great ways to stay in shape - is scheduled Tuesday mornings.
Weekly blood pressure screenings are available Fridays.
Of interest this month is a presentation on the withdrawal of three of the four HMOs that participate in Medicare in Howard County.
A 10:30 a.m. Oct. 18, members of the Howard County Office on Aging and the Senior Health Insurance Assistance Program will answer questions about the withdrawal.
Because this change can have serious consequences, counselors will be available to help senior citizens. Bennett expects a large turnout. Call ahead to register.
Bennett has seen some changes in the five years she has been at the center.
Clubs and activities are popular for a while and then scale back as time goes on. Her biggest surprise, she says, is the success of the Savage Trailblazers, a senior citizens travel club run by Melba Riddle and Bernie Beard.
The group organizes bus trips, with nearby casinos a popular destination. The group also schedules seasonal trips to plays and dinners.
What makes the group special, says Bennett, is the generosity of its membership. The Trailblazers have sponsored two clothing drives to benefit Developmental Services Group and Springfield Hospital.
"They do a lot to help," Bennett said. "They make a profit on the trips, so they give it back to the community."
The Trailblazers have quietly donated hundreds of dollars to families in financial stress. They have held a picnic at Guilford Senior Center, and purchased extra equipment for the Savage center.
Lunch is served at noon on weekdays at the center. Reservations are required.
Most of the activities are free, but the center charges a small fee for trips or the computer classes.
Songs for harvest
Since his first year as Patuxent Valley Middle School principal, Sterlind Burke has raised funds for the Savage Food Bank.
In 1996, his first year, he invited members of his extended family, who were coming to visit for Thanksgiving, to give a gospel concert, "Songs for Our Harvest," at the school. Admission was a canned good or pantry donation.
It was a huge success.
The Thanksgiving concert became the finale to the school's canned goods drive - until this year.
Because of scheduling conflicts, the concert this year will be held in the midle of next month. Burke reports that members of his family are coming from Pennsylvania; Burke, Va.; West Virginia; and Maryland to participate. About 15 singers are expected.
The concert will be held at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 14 in Patuxent Valley Middle School's auditorium. The program will include inspirational melodies and old favorites.
Admission is a donation of pantry items to help food banks.
Parents on Patrol
The Atholton High School PTSA is pleased that so many parents volunteered for the Parents on Patrol program in which parents monitor the hallways at lunchtime.
This allows staff members to devote more time to preparing lessons - and catching a well-earned breather.
Kudos to Beth Annett, Joanie Beach, Mary Byrnes, Margot Calder, Nancy Cole, Pat Flynn, Phyllis Hall, Stephanie Hall, Reesa Kipnis, Pat McTaggert, Debbie McCallister, Joan Oliver, Emma Ostendorp, Karen Smith, Chris Sutton, Deborah Wessner, Gina Wilson and Janette Wilson.