FAIRBORN — The sun is just starting to rise Thanksgiving morning, and the Fairborn Senior Center team is preparing to feed 500 community members. But they are unfazed, it has hosted this community tradition for the last 20 years.
For Fairborn Senior Center Executive Director Ellen Slone-Farthing, it’s her 12 year. And it is much more than a meal.
“I don’t want people to be alone, I don’t want people to sit in their homes alone and not eat,” Slone-Farthing said. “That bothers me if I think people are at home alone, especially seniors, not eating, all by themselves. They need to come have lunch with us.”
When she was growing up, Thanksgiving meant spending time with family. Their tradition was to eat, play outside, eat more and nap. With 13 of them there, it was about “just being together.”
“That’s how I was brought up,” she said. “Food was very important to us, it was family time and I don’t want people to be hungry.”
She describes the members as family. When the senior center hosted a Thanksgiving celebration for its members Nov. 16, she was clear that although some of the members wanted to volunteer and help with the event, it was their time to sit down and enjoy the food.
“They’re our family and we take care of them,” Slone-Farthing said.
With the help of the community, the meal open to Fairborn locals has come together year after year. She gets in touch with the city’s church community, who “puts the word out” about needed Thanksgiving items. From there, the senior center receives donation that will go toward filling bellies with Thanksgiving food and giving attendees with a sense of community.
“I always worry about the money, but then I tell everyone ‘you know, it always works out,’” she said. “We have a caring community … It happens, I always worry up until Thanksgiving day, but people step up and it always comes together.”
Slone-Farthing’s involvement at the Fairborn Senior Center dates back to more than a decade ago. She worked in the banking industry for a number of years and was asked one day by a banking client to become involved at the Fairborn Senior Center as a board member, a role she fulfilled from 1994 through 2006. During that time, she served as treasurer, vice president and president.
“Being in management in the bank, they wanted you to be out in your community, supporting your community,” she said. “It went in-line because my client base was probably 65 percent seniors. It’s fun. You can make a difference in someones life.”
And it shows. Members describe Slone-Farthing as “loving and giving” and a “marvelous lady.”
“If you need something and you ask Ellen, she gets it,” Member and Fourth of July Committee Chairman Linda Hall said. “She has done so much with this center because she is such a people-oriented person and is very loving.”
Contact Whitney Vickers at 937-502-4532.