Monroe seniors enjoy a holiday luncheon before Christmas

Serving lunches at the Monroe Senior Center is, front of the counter, from left, First Selectman Terry Rooney, Office Assistant Evana Falzone and Administrative Assistant Jean Gardino. Behind the counter, from left, is Transportation Coordinator John Williams and Director of Community & Social Services Kimberly Cassia. Photo by Elderly Services Coordinator Ronnie Jensen

MONROE, CT — Community and Social Services Director Kim Cassia and volunteers prepared to serve plates of ham, scalloped potatoes, glazed carrots, garlic green beans, a roll with butter and a slice of cheesecake for dessert at the Monroe Senior Center’s annual Christmas-Holiday Luncheon Tuesday afternoon, when First Selectman Terry Rooney dropped by.

But Rooney’s appetite would have to wait, because Cassia put him to work.

“Immediately,” Rooney recalled with a chuckle. “I walked in and said hi and she says, ‘get in here and serve the plates. You’ve got to wash your hands and get gloves.'”

“He arrived when we were serving food, so I said, ‘hey buddy …,'” Cassia said. “It was a really nice luncheon. It’s good to have the selectman show up. He said he wanted to meet the seniors. I said the most we have here is during our holiday luncheon.”

Cassia said 82 seniors attended Tuesday’s event. There were drawings for door prizes and guests brought nonperishable donations for the Monroe Food Pantry.

“I had a great time,” Rooney said. “I took some pictures. The seniors are great to be around. I talked to a lot of different people, a lot of parents’ friends, aunts and uncles, years of history from different towns.”

The first selectman said they talked about life, their grandkids, the holidays, their love of the senior center and how they consider the staff to be an extended family.

He said a few told him they are happy with some of the development in town, including senior housing and businesses that bring more convenience.

“It’s a great group of people — very open and honest with their feelings,” Rooney said. “They come at you with a question. They’re pretty sharp and want the whole answer. It was a great experience.”

Cassia said they had an ugly sweater contest earlier in the month, and the luncheon was the Monroe Senior Center’s last big event before the After New Year’s Party.

“Our chorus, The Notables, performed,” she said of Tuesday’s lunch.

Another upcoming event is a visit from Girl Scouts who will sing Christmas carols. “We try to offer a nice variety of programs throughout the year,” Cassia said.

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