Decatur Wellness and Rehabilitation Center is reaching out to the community in order to host a fishing event for its residents next week.

According to Activities Director Tamara May, the event is to help the residents enjoy activities that have become difficult to perform due to COVID-19.

“We have a couple of men here who really wanted to go out and go fishing over the summer, however due to COVID we have not been able to allow that to happen,” said May. “I thought since I can’t take them out to go fishing so let’s bring the fishing here to them.”

The center is looking for donations of live fish, between 10 and 20, for the residents to catch.

“I have been trying for over a month now and I have not really gotten anywhere because people are being cautious with the virus,” she stated. “I’m not really a big fisher so I wouldn’t be able to do it myself but I really just want to bring some light to their day in such a hard time.”

The fish that are donated for the event will be released back into the wild upon the event’s conclusion.

“The fish can be of any kind (examples bass, catfish) we are not picky,” she explained. “This will be a catch and release event.”

Other donations, such as snacks or additional fishing poles, can also be made to the center.

“Fishing poles and bait would be a plus,” she noted. “I do have some lined up for us to use, however if anybody would like to donate any kind of fishing pole, even a kid’s fishing pole, would be fine, that would be perfect as well.”

Those who would like to donate can call the Decatur Wellness and Rehabilitation Center at 423- 334-3002.

The Athens AgCentral Farmers Co-op will be supplying a container for the residents to fish out of.

She believes this event is important for the quality of life of the residents of the center.

“We strive to make our residents’ dreams and wishes come true and a lot of them are outside people who grew up working on farms and doing outdoor, nature types of things,” noted May. “They have their choice of activities because they know what they like to do ... whenever they voice their suggestions or opinions to me I try to make it happen because if it is important to them then it is important to me.”

Quality of life for the occupants of the center is important to May especially with the center not allowing visitors.

“These residents have not seen their friends or family up close in over six months now, so if going fishing is something that will get them motivated to get out of bed and some sort of quality of life then that is what I am going to do,” she said.

Visitors may not be allowed into the center, however “window visits” are encouraged.

“People getting together and maybe parading outside around the building, just going by and waving through the windows will let these people know that they have not been forgotten,” she stated. “In the future months I will be hosting a fall or possibly Halloween parade. We have done this several times in the past and our first one actually had 90 cars lined up that circled our parking lot.”

The parade will be a community event where anybody can participate.

“All they have to do is drive up and line up to participate,” she said.

Donations are also welcome to help the center.

“Any kind of donations whether it be crafting supplies or snacks or if they would just like to hang a poster board up outside of somebody’s window will give them some inspiration and encouragement,” May explained. “Any little thing like that right now would mean so much to somebody that cannot be on the outside right now.”

The center is also hosting various fundraisers and accepting donations preparing to supply Christmas gifts for the residents of the center, however the center is not a non-profit organization and donations “should be made” with that in mind.

“I want to whole heartedly thank everybody in the community for the outpouring of support they have given us, especially the Meigs County Sheriff’s Department, (Meigs County Sheriff) Jackie Melton and Shirley Cofer have went above and beyond their call of duty to help us with our parades, directing traffic and spreading the word to get as many people as they can to come by and go to as many windows as possible just to say hello,” May said. “They have really stepped up for us and really advocated for us in getting people to be more involved in what we are trying to do here. I would also like to thank my team here at Decatur Wellness and Rehab, everybody from management to therapy to dietary, housekeeping, nursing and staff for helping. The entire staff here has gone above and beyond to do everything we can for these residents right now.”

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