SOUTH PLAINFIELD – Once a month for over two years, senior citizens from South Plainfield have met at the South Plainfield Senior Center to feast on meatball sandwiches on “Meatball Monday.”  On June 8, after nearly three months without being able to host any events due to COVID-19 precautions, the staff found a unique way to safely host Meatball Monday.  

The smell of Italian meatballs and sauce wafted once again from the Senior Center as staff transformed the back entrance into an Italian café.  Italian flags decorated the rafters with red, green and white balloons creating a festive archway.  Checkered tablecloths dressed tables as the staff wore Italian aprons along with their masks and gloves to hand containers of meatballs and rolls to each car as seniors drove through to pick up their orders between 12p.m. and 1p.m.

“Today was great!” said Administrative Assistant to the Director Linda Fiore.  “We haven’t seen the seniors in such a long time, so it was nice to see everybody.  The seniors all miss coming here.  That’s all they talk about.  They can’t wait to come back.”

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In all, 58 orders were given out to seniors.  Staff and volunteers say it was wonderful to see everyone who they have missed over the months in quarantine.

“This Senior Center once again did an outstanding job for its members,” Councilwoman Christine Faustini said.  “It was so nice to be able to see, however briefly and afar, some of our members as they drove through.  The seniors were delighted to have a little taste of one of their much-loved special lunches.” 

The Senior Center staff has been hard at work making sure seniors are safe and well cared for while the center has been closed.  There is no word how long their doors will be locked, but Tree Olano, South Plainfield Senior Center Executive Director, says they will continue to think of inventive ways to host events and continue to engage the senior community. 

“I want the seniors to know that I’m doing everything possible to keep up with our favorite events of the past,” Olano said.  “I always add extras and I’m a sucker for details and theme music.  Look out for some other events in the future!”

Over the past several months, the staff has been working hard to keep in close contact with seniors.  From phones calls and social media posts, to door drops of food and baskets of games and essentials, to sewing nearly 500 face masks, the South Plainfield Senior Center has made sure the senior citizens of South Plainfield are safe and know how much they are loved.  

“I have an awesome squad,” said Olano.  “I’m so grateful for the amazing Senior Center staff and volunteers.”  

“The senior center was a home away from home for South Plainfield seniors!” Faustini said.  “I am looking forward to the time when we can be together again.” 

According to staff, the center is a family and looking out for one another is of top priority.  

“We want to keep our seniors active, so we’re trying the best that we can under the circumstances,” Fiore said.  “Our Meatball Monday is just the beginning of things we’re going to do over the next couple of weeks.  We’re planning other outside events.”