Melissa Polites Named Director of the Year

The centers in Union County buzz with activities under the direction of Melissa Polites. Some of these activities include the following:
• Monthly trips are scheduled for bowling; the seniors go twice a month to Owensboro to bowl with transportation provided.
• From spring until fall, monthly trips are taken to Dawson Springs for lunch and bingo.
• Final Friday Feast, is a popular monthly potluck: seniors bring favorite potluck items, whileMelissa provides the main course.
• As a “thank you” to each senior for their help throughout the year, Melissa provides a Thanksgiving and Christmas meal.
• Each weekend is full of activities as well, from first and third Saturday dances to the second and fourth with Karaoke, as well as themed dances with DJ’s or movie nights. Pool, cards, or dice are played daily, along with line dancing and aerobics three times a week, and bunco and music on Thursdays.
• The local library visits monthly, providing crafting classes. Seniors have had the opportunity to make wreaths, therapeutic heating pads, scented sugar scrubs, decorative flower pots, and enjoy adult coloring pages.
One project that has becomepopular with Union County seniors isgardening. Melissa helped spear head a raised-bed garden project at the center. She has invested not only time, but equipment for the gardens and continued support for the project. The original project started with four raised-bedgardens, which provide fresh produce to the home bound clients. Fresh produce to whichmany hadlimited or no access. Since its beginning the garden project has more than doubled; five additional beds have been added. The beds provide fresh garden vegetables from spring through fall and are filled with many of the seniors’ favorite vegetable requests.

Some activities vary from month to month and encompass themes ranging from Older Americans Month to National Nutrition Month. May is an especially busy month filled with hosting health fairs, taking seniors to the different centers across the seven GRADD counties, Senior Games and much more. Melissa provides a variety of other social events for each site, including ice-cream socials and pancake breakfasts complete with all the trimmings.
Melissa’s creativity has resulted in incorporation of new activities to address the needs of Union County Seniors.Senior Safety Day is one such event. Melissa arranged for an onsite mobile shredding service and a special guest speaker to educate seniors on fraud, identity theft, and strategies to better protect themselves and their loved ones. This idea resulted after one senior’s wallet was stolen containing both important identification cards, as well as irreplaceable photos of family.

This past Christmas, Melissa began “Christmas Wish,” a project for the approximately 43 homebound clients. Each homebound client was sent a letter and asked to respond with a single Christmas wish – no limitations were placed on the request. Clients were encouraged to “wish” for something new they have never tried or experienced or something they had not had the opportunity to enjoy in a long time. “Christmas Wish” requests ranged from favorite foods, articles of clothing, make overs, a night out viewing Christmas lights, and even an opportunity to milk a cow.Whether the request was a new dress or a juicy, charcoal-grilled burger, each gift was specially wrapped and hand delivered! During the Christmas season, Melissa also partners with local Girl Scouts in delivering blankets to nursing home residents while caroling through the halls and cheering residents as the blankets are delivered. Melissa looks for multiple opportunities to help put a smile on a face or to show someone they are loved.

The latest project Melissa is working on,is to provide the seniors an opportunity to witness the Great American Eclipse on August 21, 2017. Melissa would like to take as many seniors as possible to a local hotspot or possibly to Hopkinsville to see this rare occurrence.

Melissa Polites is an exceptional center director who loves the seniors who surround her and is passionate about meeting their needs. She is diligent and selfless in her work with this special population. The senior citizens of Union County feel blessed to have her in their lives!

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