Barbara Lawlor, Nederland. Nederland prides itself in its children’s programs: youth soccer and youth hockey; camps for all ages, theater and art programs, and nature activities. It also takes pride in the senior citizen programs, trips to the opera, to the dinner theaters, exercise classes, museum tours and fairs and festivals. Always somewhere to go, something to do, someone to meet.
Two years ago, Serene Karplus, director of the Nederland Area Seniors programs, initiated another program meant to bring in the middle aged group, a bit too young to be considered senior citizens and way too old to be in the youth group. Somewhere in the middle.
Appropriately, the program was named the Mountain MidLife: an offering of dinners, brunches, breakfasts, wine tastings, hikes, field trips and a plethora of activities meant to include just about any age in the adult life spectrum.
In the last week of July in 2015, about 90 people showed up to find out what this midlife situation would consist of, if it was something they would be interested in. They were pleasantly surprised by the low-cost, high quality meal they were served at the Nederland Community Center. They found the company pleasing and the ambience conducive to conversation and companionship. In other words, the MidLife dinner was a success; so were the breakfasts and brunches. The program filled an heretofore gap in social options in town.
Serene marketed the program as such: “Mountain MidLife is our award-winning program for those who would like to meet other people in their middle years, both married and single, hosting monthly dinners and breakfasts, along with hikes, programs, and interest groups. Mountain residents in their middle years may be unable to come to lunches or don’t identify themselves as “seniors”. The term “midlife” is self-defined, more by an active lifestyle than chronological age or a demographic tier.”
Everyone is welcome to midlife events, and Serene says she is especially eager to serve those who are unable to join the seniors for lunch and who are over the age of 50.
The Mountain MidLife Social Dinner two weeks ago, on Friday, July 28, featured guest speaker Carol Carper sharing stories of her ongoing work in Kenya. The Sasa Harambee “Now Let Us All Pull Together” organization works to build community capacity and sustainable economy and agriculture in Sigomere Ward of rural Kenya.
Accompanying Carpers slideshow and presentation, the dinner consisted of Kenyan chicken stew, spiced collard greens, mashed potatoes with peas and corn and sweet potato pudding. The food is usually not something found in a local restaurant menu and as Hughes Moir says, “There is always something I like, even if I don’t always like everything.”
Local resident Matt Reynolds said the midlife program has been a big boost for seniors. “We get funds according to the number of people we serve,” he explained. “And that helps us keep the Nederland Area Seniors functioning. There are some people who don’t want to be called seniors yet, but don’t mind being considered midlife.”
Moir says the food is always first rate with a large variety and the people who attend the dinners are old and new friends.
Carper took the diners on a trip to Kenya where they met the village people who are struggling with clean water issues and benefitting from the donations from Americans which pays for training and equipment to rid the water of e coli, American money also assists in educating the locals about malnutrition, latrines and malaria and growing their own food.
Speakers such as Carol Carper bring the world to Nederland and give its midlife members a glimpse into other lives and how locals can contribute to helping those in third world countries live healthier lives.
(Originally published in the August 10, 2017 print edition of The Mountain-Ear.)