More than 100 people gathered in the cafeteria of St. Joseph the Worker Church in the village of Liverpool last Wednesday Nov. 8. They ate turkey, chatted and celebrated a special milestone.
The people in attendance were members of St. Joseph's Seniors and their guests, and they were celebrating the group's 30th anniversary. Though the organization uses the church at the corner of Tulip and Sixth streets for their monthly meetings, it's open to seniors of all faiths. The group meets the second Wednesday of every month and offers conversation, companionship and occasional trips for area seniors.
"The first group met in 1976," said Vice President Ursula Gooden. "They used to meet in Onondaga Lake Park, and they'd meet from May to September and then not meet again until the following spring."
The group started to grow immediately.
"By 1979, they had grown to 30 members," Gooden said.
Seeking a larger (and warmer) space, the group moved to the parish center at St. Joseph's in later years. Once open only to Salina residents, the organization now welcomes seniors from all over the area.
"This is a transition year," said President Robert Rathbun. "We just opened up our membership, so we had to put a cap on it at 160 members. We have a waiting list with about 12 people who want to join us."
Once the officers realized that this would be the group's 30th anniversary, they began planning a special celebration.
"The committee started meeting in April [to put this together]," said Anne Saliba, a committee member. "By August, we were meeting once a week."
The celebration at the November meeting on the 8th featured a memory book filled with minutes of meetings since the group's inception, cards and letters and photos. The officers also honored previous officers as well as members who had been part of the group for 15 years or more. A full Thanksgiving dinner was provided by the Gardenview Diner on Old Liverpool Road, with sides made by members.
But it wasn't all joy; members also took a moment to remember lost friends. Gooden reminded those in attendance of the memorial brick the group had placed in the Butterfly Garden of Hope and called for a moment of silence.
"Life has a balance," she said. "You have to balance the happiness with sadness."