Volunteering ‘fills my heart’

Published 9:00 am Monday, September 12, 2022

By Emily Burleigh

American Press

Nannette Vincent plays an indispensable role in the various Sulphur Senior Center activities.

As a partner for the elderly, Vincent volunteers her time to help with many events at the center; however, her two primary events are bingo and “Nanette’s Kitchen.”

Every Tuesday and Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., Vincent can be found at the center’s bi-weekly bingo game. Sometimes she just calls bingo, and sometimes she runs the show.

“It depends on how many volunteers we have,” she explained. “If I’m there by myself, which sometimes happens, I’ll be the one to hand them their gift. Then, we start all over again.”

The entry fee for bingo is $1, and participants are able to win prizes such as toilet paper, paper towels, and dishwashing soap.

Vincent said that there are usually 1 to 2 volunteers, and up to 50 participants. At the “Sock it to Me” Bingo last Thursday, the center raised more than $150.

Once a month, members of the center look forward to “Nanette’s Kitchen.” Vincent said what she cooks can range from pancakes and sausage to her highly demanded chicken salad sandwiches.

Other popular events at the center include chair yoga, Tai Chi, and bean bag baseball. Vincent also said that every few months, the center takes patrons on a field trip. Most recently, Vincent and her peers brought members to a flea market in Jennings.

Vincent said all of the money raised at events is used as funding for the Sulphur Senior Center. The center is also funded through a program called the “Partners for the Elderly Program.” Local businesses participate in this program and support the center by donating $100 monthly or $1,200 yearly.

All funding for the center supports their programs, activities, trips and supplies.

Vincent finds the good works of her and the center are vital because the center provides a safe space for older citizens to curate a community.

“It’s the companionship and the sense of family,” she said. “Some of them go home to an empty house.”

By offering her time, Vincent is able to provide patrons with friendship.

“Just to say, ‘Good morning, how are you?,’ that just brightens their faces.”

Volunteering at the center brings Vincent fulfillment.

“It fills my heart,” she said.

For Vincent, volunteering is a mutual exchange. “It gives you such fulfillment to see the smile on their face. It’s a perfect fit for me.”

She said she has learned plenty of life skills from interacting with her friends at the center. “Their mind is a wealth of history. They can tell you about such important skills.”

She said some of the standout skills were farming and canning.

Her love for the elderly stemmed from her time spent with her grandmother. Through her relationship with her, Vincent learned to care and appreciate older people.

“I was able to take care of her until she passed away. I was able to take care of my mother. I was able to take care of my mother-in-law,” she said. “I just have a love for older people, and that gives me the opportunity to give back instead of sitting at home.”

Vincent has plans to join the Calcasieu Council on Aging board. Her goal is to have a greater outreach, and to help institute further programming at the CCOA.