According to Winona Main Street/Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce director Sue Stidham, who is facilitating the ARC grant, the grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission Winona seniors are now enjoying special programs, activities, and speakers planned to help enrich their lives, in conjunction with daily lunches provided by the North Central Planning and Development’s Agency on Aging.
Stidham said the Appalachian Community Learning Project Grant program was made available around three years ago, and Duck Hill and Kilmichael were both awarded the grant in an effort to revitalize and improve the image of the towns.
Only recently did funding become available again, and Stidham applied for the grant for Winona. She explained that with the group of seniors already meeting at the Winona Community Center each day during the week, enjoying lunch, music, fellowship and a devotional, collaboration with the Agency on Aging was ideal.
Stidham explained that Winona Main Street, Montgomery County Diabetes Coalition and the Agency on Aging created a three-agency partnership to offer healthy lifestyle and other enrichment programs to participating seniors. However, the program is not indefinitely funded by the ARC.
Stidham said to continue, the group will need to raise funds to continue the program.
For more than a year, Winona’s Della Applewhite has been creating handbags and other items by crocheting with plastic bags. She learned to “plarn” from Era Robinson Turner of Greenwood, who was working in conjunction with the recycling program in Greenwood.
Turner said she lived in San Diego, Calif., for 40 years before returning to Mississippi, and in San Diego, recycling was a great concern.
“A big thing for us is recycling,” Turner said. “We are trying to get rid of these plastic bags because they get into the environment.”
Applewhite has become very efficient with “plarning,” and she has developed her own patterns over the last year. When the new ARC Learning Project Grant was awarded, organizers hoped that Applewhite would give instruction on “plarning” to the other seniors. After some thought, the idea of selling “plarn” items to raise funds for the program gave the seniors something to work with.
Turner and her sister, Shirley Robinson Austin of San Diego, visited the senior group last week at the Winona Community Center to assist in setting up a “plarning” program to help raise funds.
Turner encouraged the dozen seniors present to work together to create handbags, change purses, and other tote bags to sell.
“I am a non-stop ‘plarner,’” Turner said. “I started with a group working with the homeless in San Diego, making mats for them.”
Turner and Applewhite gave a demonstration to those present of how to “plarn.” To create “plarn,” plastic bags are cut into one-inch strips, looped together and used like yarn in crocheting.
“You can have crews to make them,” Turner said. “Some of you can straighten the bags, some can be cutters, some loopers, and then you have your experts. Those are the ones that can crochet.”
Stidham said the seniors hope to have some items available for the Christmas season.
“We are also planning on making birdhouse and quilts as well,” Stidham said.