Margaret Koncz thawed birthday cupcakes left over from the 90th birthday dinner her family had brought to her home Jan. 23. She wanted to share them with her friends at the Firestone Park Community Center.
Wednesday was the first day the ladies of the Firestone Park Seniors Club met to play cards since Thanksgiving, Koncz of Akron said.
Seven women, whose ages range from 87 to 95, are the remaining members of the club, formed in 1984, that once numbered more than 200 people. The group that usually meets twice a month even canceled its Christmas party due to inclement weather.
“It’s good to get out,” Carylin Balchak, 91, said at the center Wednesday.
The all-too-typical gray skies, frigid temperatures and deep snow gave way just enough, and Wednesday’s bright blue skies beckoned the weather-weary outside.
Some said they hadn’t left their homes voluntarily since December.
The weather can have that effect on folks, said Frank Kieltyka, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Cleveland.
“The last time we saw this kind of winter was 20 years ago,” he said.
Jan. 18 was the last day there was no snow recorded on the ground at the Akron-Canton Airport, Kieltyka said. There have been only seven days since Jan. 1 that folks in this area could see their lawns.
When winter’s gray skies, cold air and snowy roads and walkways keep people inside, they need to make an effort to connect with others and with their bodies, said Karen Cimini, a psychologist with the Akron Family Institute who specializes in relationships and life issues.
“Movement helps. No matter what age you are, if you keep your body moving, you will want to move more,” Cimini said. “Move your body, and your brain chemistry absolutely will ... [help] you from becoming depressed.”
Age doesn’t seem to matter when it comes to hunkering down when the weather is dreary, said Teresa Alexoff, a member of the Sew n’ Sews quilting club that meets at the Firestone Park Community Center twice each week.
“When I don’t have to go out, I’m not going out,” she said.
The club’s dozen members, whose average age is 50, hasn’t met for more than two months. Normally they gather regularly to sew quilts and soft toys for area nonprofit agencies, such as ACCESS and the Ronald McDonald House affiliated with Akron Children’s Hospital.
They also provide quilts for nursing home and hospice patients, said Janet Bryant, who has been quilting and teaching quilting for more than 50 years.
“I can’t remember when it’s been this bad,” she said of the winter weather.
Even attendance at the Men’s Club weekly breakfast at Ellet Community Center is down, but not by much, said Kelly Williams, supervisor at the center.
“Normally, we have 25 that come for breakfast. Today, we only had 18,” she said.
The meal, prepared each week by retired truck driver Don Davis, 76, is something they won’t miss, said the men who play several games of six-handed euchre each Wednesday after they share the meal.
“We’ll eat breakfast, play euchre and go home and take a nap. Then we’ll get up and come back for spaghetti dinner tonight,” said Bob Sutphin, 79.
Spending time with friends is absolutely necessary this time of year, Cimini said. When that isn’t possible, seniors should consider getting a pet.
“I believe older people, if they can take care of [pets], need to have that extra heart around.”
Kathy Antoniotti can be reached at 330-996-3565 or firstname.lastname@example.org.