‘We’re all family’: Rifle Senior Center celebrates Thanksgiving early | PostIndependent.com

‘We’re all family’: Rifle Senior Center celebrates Thanksgiving early

Betty Clifford smiles as she awaits a Thanksgiving meal at the Rifle Senior Center on Tuesday.
Ray K. Erku / Post Independent

Minutes before kitchen workers scurried to serve feasts of turkey breast, potatoes and fresh rolls during Rifle Senior Center’s Thanksgiving lunch, some of the gals were satisfying a hunger for conversation.

Congregated in the library, Pat Wood, Betty Clifford and Cricket Goodsell reminisced about local history, like Rifle’s great fire of 1902. More importantly, they used this brief window to express joy over once again having an opportunity to relish each other’s company.

The Thanksgiving feast, an annual get-together since the center opened in 1981, was placed on hold in 2020 due to COVID-19.

“We’re all family,” Wood said. “We all know each other, and having family at Thanksgiving is what it’s like.”

Cricket Goodsell sifts through place mats during a Thanksgiving lunch at the Rifle Senior Center on Tuesday.
Ray K. Erku/Citizen Telegram

Supported by donations at the door and a substantial contribution made by local company Gold Star Realty, the senior center served 67 meals to the region’s older generations on a chilly but cozy Tuesday afternoon.

It’s a critical gathering in many regards, said senior center director Tami Sours. Some attendees live alone. Some have families far away.

“So the congregation part is huge,” Sours said. “When we shut down last year for COVID, we noticed a huge change in people not having that social interaction.”

For Wood, a widow of eight years who originally married an oilfield worker named Jack in Rifle in 1955, she’s offered the opportunity to spend time with friends.

“We sure missed each other during COVID,” she said.

Clifford, a former Rifle City Council member who served in the U.S. Navy, is a community pillar of sorts. If there’s a Veterans Day parade in town, she’s usually in it. When there’s an American Legion meeting going on, she’s usually there.

She, too, lives alone, just across Rifle’s Deerfield Park from the Veterans Memorial.

Kitchen workers prepare a Thanksgiving meal for the Rifle Senior Center on Tuesday.
Ray K. Erku / Post Independent

But when it comes to the senior center holding the Thanksgiving dinner, Clifford gets to see her friends again.

“It’s so nice to see them all and be with them,” she said.

Goodsell, a retired housekeeper now attached to an oxygen tank most of the day, said Tuesday’s dinner, simply put, gives her hope.

“I’m just thankful for each day the Lord wakes us up,” she said. “And I’m thankful for the fabulous food we get here.”

Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or rerku@citizentelegram.com.

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