BERLIN ‚Äď The Berlin Senior Center hosted ‚ÄúRocking into 2021 with Peace and Love,‚ÄĚ a drive thru event honoring Martin Luther King Jr., Friday morning.
‚ÄúBecause this week was Martin Luther King Jr. Day and it is a day of service in our country that‚Äôs where I got the idea to put in donations to our local food pantry,‚ÄĚ Senior Center Director Tina Doyle said. ‚ÄúI did ‚Äėrocking‚Äô because that‚Äôs what they call painting the rocks, and to 2021, peace and love, and if you notice their designs are all either love or peace.‚ÄĚ
Doyle, who knew all of the seniors by name, directed the flow of traffic, greeting the seniors and instructing them on what to do. All cars were put in park and Doyle gave the seniors their goodies while volunteer Ryan Malloy retrieved the senior‚Äôs non-perishable donation.
‚ÄúI said originally one, but as you can see they have been brining bags full, so they‚Äôve been very generous,‚ÄĚ Doyle said of the donations.
‚ÄúThis event gives them something to do. Because of covid-19 they‚Äôre all cooped up right now, so something as simple as a drive-thru gets them out of the house and they enjoy it,‚ÄĚ Malloy said. ‚ÄúAnd with this one they‚Äôre giving back, so it‚Äôs a good cause.‚ÄĚ
The goodies included a painted rock, designed by members of the Rocking Berlin CT! (and beyond) Facebook group, that was bagged with a note about rock painting and a cupcake decorated with a peace sign.
‚ÄúI contacted Tina about doing a painting class here for the seniors and we had scheduled it for St. Patrick‚Äôs Day (2020), but then that‚Äôs when the whole covid thing took off so everything got postponed,‚ÄĚ said Lori Dwyer, creator of Rocking Berlin CT. ‚ÄúI kept in touch with her all the time and she told me the title is going to be ‚ÄėRocking into 2021‚Äô and I was like ‚Äėoh, this will be good,‚Äô then she told me what the theme was and I basically posted on the group page asking if anyone wanted to paint and about 10-12 people responded.‚ÄĚ
Dwyer started Rocking Berlin CT in July 2018 and the group now has 1,300 members.
‚ÄúI used to always paint and I kind of stopped. Then I went through a rough time and I was like let me start painting again,‚ÄĚ Dwyer said. ‚ÄúI started painting and labeling all the rocks on the back and I started hiding them around town and it‚Äôs just taken off. It‚Äôs just like a wonderful surprise when you‚Äôre having a bad day; it just makes you smile.‚ÄĚ
There were approximately 52 seniors that participated in the MLK drive thru event.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre delivering some to folks that don‚Äôt drive as well,‚ÄĚ Doyle said. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôre trying to stay connected to our seniors. It gives them a chance to see us and us to see them. The pandemic is not going to stop us from staying connected to our seniors in our community and trying to uplift and help them.‚ÄĚ
Jennifer Ochoa, director of community recreation and parks services, thought the event was a great way to keep everyone connected.
‚ÄúTina has done a fantastic job of keeping our seniors connected to the Senior Center, making sure she‚Äôs offering things for them to come and do to stay connected like with the drive-thrus. It‚Äôs great,‚ÄĚ she said.