Wetumpka has some outstanding city employees.
I met one on Friday.
Mary Ann Barrett, director of the Wetumpka Senior Center, is a hoot. And the seniors of Wetumpka love her for it.
I spent only a couple of hours at the center watching her interact with the city’s seniors.
I saw enough.
Barrett, a lifelong Wetumpka resident, is perfect for the job. She treats Wetumpka’s seniors like her kids – not the way an adult is condescending to children, but in the way they love them and look out for them.
On Friday, there were some 35 or so seniors on hand at the center for the Father’s Day lunch. Barrett was kind enough to offer me a seat at the meal.
Before the lunch, we talked a bit and I found out that her father and my late uncle had been good buddies. Later, I found out that I had known her husband, Wink, for probably about 35 years, since the days we showed beef steers together.
But this isn’t about me or Wink Barrett or Mary Ann’s dad. It’s about Mary Ann and the report she has with the seniors who visit her daily at the Wetumpka Senior Center.
One can be sure that, for many, their time with Mary Ann, a lady full of life, is the highlight of their days. Some likely don’t have family nearby and everyone – you, me, our loved ones – needs someone to laugh with and share a smile.
Mary Ann Barrett loves to laugh.
Mary Ann Barrett loves to smile.
About her job, which she’s held just since March, although she’s worked at the center for two years, Barrett says, “I love it. I absolutely love it.”
On Friday, she did something I heard she’s prone to do. She came up with an idea right on the spot to make the day a little brighter.
On everyone’s table at the luncheon was an arrangement with marbles at the bottom of a clear vase and a fish in each one, swimming about, looking a bit confused.
At the drop of the hat, Mary Ann decided that a way to let the seniors have some fun with the fish was to let each table name theirs with one receiving a prize for the best name.
The prize wasn’t much (a basket of snacks for the seniors who sat at the winning table), but that’s not really important. Before leaving I could see and hear the seniors discussing, laughing about and, yes, a few arguments about the best name for their fish.
The game was instant fun.
“You have to have fun,” Barrett said. “That’s a big part of what life’s about, right?”
The names that Barrett chose for finalists were Redtail, Toto, Bluefin, Wink the Fish, Little Willie and Charlie.
And the winning name? Charlie, as in the famous tuna from the Starkist commercials.
Though only one small group of seniors won the basket of snacks, all of those who frequent the Wetumpka Senior Center get much more every day.
A few hours with – and even more laughs – with Miss Mary Ann.