Show your appreciation on National Senior Citizens Day

Published: Aug. 21, 2019 at 7:20 AM EDT
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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - National Senior Citizen day was proclaimed by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 as a way to raise awareness about their accomplishments and to show our appreciate to them.

The New Hanover County Senior Resource Center is state recognized as a “Senior Center of Excellence.” The center offers a variety of activities and programs for those 55 and older in the community.

Jean Burker has been working at the senior center since 1994. She teaches a ballet class once a week. At 94-years-old, she’s an unstoppable force.

Not long ago, Jean was forced to take a break from dancing.

“I got sick couldn’t walk for three months and had to learn how to walk again and how to dance,” says Jean.

She’s back on her feet and takes pride in the work her students put in.

“Some of them who came to dance never had even pointed their toes before,” says Jean. “I got them to look like dancers which I’m very proud of.”

Jean has retired twice before, but says the next time, will be the last. She doesn’t know when that’ll be; she says she’ll probably stop teaching when she can no longer drive.

Mary Konicki moved to the North Carolina coast a number of years ago, but felt lonely and bored. She then heard about the senior center and now spends most of her time there.

“The minute I walked in I was welcomed with open arms,” says Mary. “Now I’m involved and almost 13 different sites. I love every one of them.”

Mary works at the front desk of the center and also teaches geri-fit -- her favorite program at the senior center.

“It gives me pleasure, it keeps me busy, which I like to be, and I love the people here,” says Mary.

George James worked for Cape Industries in Wilmington for 31 years. After he left there, he became a bus driver for New Hanover County Schools. George drove buses for 11 years and when it came time to retire, a principal at one of the schools he drove for asked him to stick around by volunteering with the senior center’s Foster Grandparent program.

Now, it’s like George didn’t retire. He’s in school tutoring children at least four days a week.

“It gets me at the house plus it’s going to help me keep my mind sharp,” says George. “It is important and I enjoy it."

George says it’s something he looks forward to everyday.

“There’s nothing like seeing the light come on in one of the kids eyes that you’re trying to get them to read or learn math or whatever,” says George.

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