About 250 guests gathered in Fruitvale on Tuesday for the annual Beaver Valley Age Friendly Christmas luncheon. (From left: Kathleen Russell, Fruitvale Mayor Patricia Cecchini, Fran Pargeter)

Beaver Valley seniors gather for Christmas get-together

The annual holiday event is part of the Beaver Valley Age Friendly program

Approximately 250 of Beaver Valley’s finest gathered for a hot lunch of chicken cordon bleu, stuffed potatoes, greens and dessert at Fruitvale Memorial Hall this week,.

Volunteers cooked and served with a smile, while police chatted and poured countless cups of coffee and tea.

Fran Pargeter, 83, was one of many Beaver Valley seniors who were up bright and early on a snowy Tuesday setting up tables for the annual Beaver Valley Age Friendly Christmas luncheon.

He’s been part of the program that, since 2009, has been connecting seniors from Montrose, Beaver Falls, Fruitvale and Area A with each other as well as with various services and age friendly events.

“The Age Friendly program is one of the best things that has happened to this valley,” says Fran, mentioning his parents left their Manitoba farm to move to Fruitvale in 1944.

“It’s really working well as you see today,” he said. “A lot of intelligent people have set this up, a lot of people here are older than me and on their own, so it’s nice to have the help.”

He added, “And Vickie (Vickie Fitzpatrick, program coordinator) and Patricia (Fruitvale Mayor Patricia Cecchini) work tirelessly to keep this going. It’s a Number One program that a lot of other communities are now using as a model.”

Fran regularly bowls, three games for $6, and taps a card to use the senior-only gym, both located in the lower level of Fruitvale hall.

He also participates in a once-a-month round table with Fitzpatrick called “Coffee with Vickie,” where seniors bounce ideas off each other for possible advancement into the Age Friendly program.

“One of the things we are proposing now is for people who live by themselves,” he said. “The home alone (medical alert system buttons) we would like to purchase a few of those and then rent them out to people at a reduced rate because they are quite expensive. We won’t be able to get one for everybody but we can start out small with maybe a half dozen.”

Another forward-thinking idea the group came up with is lock boxes for private residences.

“We are proposing to set up and buy a whole bunch of them for first responders to use to get inside a home, instead of having to break down the door,” Fran explained. “That’s another example of something we are trying to get for the community.”

Outside of Beaver Valley Age Friendly, Fran and friends organize Meals on Wheels, work the Salvation Army Christmas kettles, and just about anything else someone may need help with throughout the year.

“There’s a lot of seniors now, we are an older population,” Fran said. “I stayed here because it’s a good place to retire and there is never nothing to do.”

He suggests for anyone feeling a bit lonely, to walk downtown because there is always someone to talk with.

“If you say you’re bored, it’s your own fault,” Fran laughed.

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