This week is Volunteer Appreciation Week. We would like to thank our volunteers for their countless acts of volunteerism. The volunteers that deliver food each day to numerous shut-ins are doing such an important service. We would like to thank Henry Norwood, Linda Morrow, Lana Tallent, Sandra Liner, Janis Wenzel, Bill and Dottie Love, Jim Kirkland, and Pat Bunch. We cannot thank them enough for what they do.
We are continuing to distribute frozen food boxes each Thursday. We will continue to do this until at least July. We still can add anyone 60 and older. Call the center to get started at 423-781-7632.
Earth Day was created to celebrate the planet’s environment and raise public awareness about pollution. It is observed each year on April 22. People all over the world celebrates it with rallies, conferences, outdoor activities, and service projects.
Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin proposed the day in 1970. It has since contributed to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to the passage of the Clean Air Act, the Water Quality Improvement Act, the Endangered Species Act, and several environmental laws.
Each Earth Day, people are reminded to think about the threat our planet faces and what are some ways we can help protect the environment. There are two simple ways to celebrate Earth Day. The first is to promote understanding of important environmental issues so that more people are aware of the critical actions we need to take to protect our environment. You can post things on social media about Earth Day. You can tell your family and friends about Earth Day. The second is to commit yourself to service around Earth Day.
It is never too late to start helping our planet. And don’t think that only one person can’t make a difference. That’s not true. Anything that anyone does will help this wonderful planet we live on. We all need to do our part to make sure it stays as beautiful as it is now.
Some of the following ideas are geared for older adults, but they are good ideas for any age. Some activities are not only good for the earth. They can give you many health benefits also.
• Take a walk and appreciate nature. Stroll through a public garden or park. Take a hike in the woods. Many parks have wheelchair-accessible trails to enable people with mobility restrictions to enjoy the great outdoors. You can take advantage of the great outdoors even if you’re not very mobile or active. Seniors with limited sight, mobility, and cognition can look and listen to nature, which has many positive physiological impacts. Looking out a window or at photos of nature reduces anxiety and promotes healing from surgery, and the sounds of nature can improve the immune system’s response. The City of Athens has beautiful parks to visit that are handicap-accessible. Athens Regional Park, Veterans Memorial Park, and Heritage Park are some of the parks that anyone of any ability would enjoy. There are many walking trails that all would enjoy. There is even a dog park and putt-putt course in Prof Powers Park on Slack Road. These two features will be handicap-accessible in a few weeks. There is also a new dog park in Etowah.
• Go bird watching. You can go somewhere to watch for birds, or you can watch for birds in your own yard. You probably won’t have lots of birds hanging around unless you feed them. Then you won’t be without birds very long. You can purchase bird feeders at many locations, as well as food. The best food, in my opinion, is sunflower seeds. There is little waste unlike the wild bird food. Sunflower seeds will attract a variety of birds such as cardinals, finches and jays. I just love watching the birds in my yard and identifying the new species that come to eat. Some people do not feed birds in the summer, but because of the birds that stop in our area while migrating to other regions, they need to be fed.
• Want to save money on bird food? Make your own. Recently we made homemade suet here at the center for the birds and put it in a coffee cup that is hung by the handle in a tree. This homemade feeder worked great. The birds couldn’t get enough. Here is recipe for the homemade suet:
1 cup suet or lard
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
2 cups quick oats
2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
Melt the suet or lard. Mix in other ingredients. Spoon it into suet trays or add to a suet feeder.
• Grow a garden. Planting flowers and vegetables for your own or other’s enjoyment will help beautify the landscape. You will also reap many health benefits, such as receiving vitamin D, which will help your bones and immune system, lower risk of dementia, give a mood boost, provide exercise, and help combat loneliness.
• Recycle. Create storage bins for newspapers, magazines, aluminum cans, plastic, and glass bottles. Etowah and Athens have recycling centers. Call them to find out exactly what they accept.
• Plant a tree or shrub. Clean the air and reduce climate change effects by planting a tree or shrub in your yard or your community. Ask at a nursery which tree or shrubs have the best chance of success in our area. Supporters of Earth Day this year have a goal working toward the 50th anniversary of Earth Day to plant 7.8 million trees to help reduce pollution, increase biodiversity to avoid the loss of species, and help our cities move toward reduction of the use of fossil fuel and become 100% renewable.
• Explore a farmer’s market. The Mennonite farmer’s markets are open now in Englewood, Tellico Plains, and Delano. The farmer’s market in Athens at Market Park will be open from May until October.
• Conserve water. There are so many ways to save water. Take showers instead of baths. Turn off the water until you are ready to rinse. Only do the laundry or use the dishwasher when you have a full load. Collect rain water to water your garden. Water each plant individually instead of the whole garden.
• Help pick up litter. Cleaning a roadway, public park, or a beach will help the earth stay clean.
• Check your house for leaky faucets and pipes. Repair the leak to save water.
• Replace standard light bulbs with LEDs that use much less energy to run and last a lot longer.
• Use reusable grocery bags when you go buy groceries.
• Start a compost bin. Start a pile outside and add vegetable and fruit peeling, egg shells, food scraps, grass clippings, coffee grounds, dry leaves, shredded newspaper, straw, and sawdust. The biodegradable items will turn into rich soil. Making compost and taking recyclables to a recycle center can greatly reduce the amount of junk sent to landfills.
• Use natural beauty products. Products made from commercially-produced ingredients can have a negative impact on the environment. These chemicals end up in the water and air.
This is just a ripple in the water of things we and our senior loved ones can do to celebrate Earth Day and every day in the upcoming year. We know you can think of more things you can do to benefit the earth.
Our senior center is very active with programs to protect our earth. The month of April is Keep America Beautiful Month. To do our part to keep American beautiful, we recycle plastic and paper. We will also continue to recycle aluminum.
We have made several natural health beauty products at the center. We have made lotions, muscle rubs and lip balm, all using natural ingredients. We also have made terrariums. Watch for other workshops in the coming months.
Soon we will begin to once again have indoor activities. Watch this article for upcoming dates.
Sue Walker is the executive director of the Etowah Area Senior Citizens Center. She may be reached by calling 423-781-7632.