“Soup-er Thursday” gives seniors good soup, company

Jan 17, 2019

MARION — Karen Gregory, director of the Council on Aging, and Jody Dickerson who directs the Marion Recreation Center share an office space, are “always idea-sharing” as Gregory puts it, and now share an event together: a Thursday soup lunch for seniors.

“We work well together, and he loves cooking,” Karen Gregory said, to explain the partnership. In fact, Dickerson was trained at Johnson and Wales.

“When Marion announced that the recreation center and the senior center were going to share the same building there were a lot of naysayers who said it wouldn’t work,” Dickerson said, “But we proved them wrong.”

The camaraderie between the two is easy to see just from watching them plan and look at menus.

“Why did we put kale soup on Valentine’s Day? That’s not very loving,” Gregory said. Dickerson was quick to jump in and suggest they would do something seasonal for dessert, like berries and chocolate.

Dickerson and Gregory wanted to combat some of the isolation that seniors experience. “And in the winter what two things would go better together than soup and friendship?” Gregory asked.

On Jan. 17 the Soup-er Thursday lunch was a vegetable soup, with a tomato base, green beans, corn, peas, carrots, zucchini and summer squash, served in a bread bowl.

“Soup is one of those things like pasta sauce. It’s better when you make it ahead of time, so we made it yesterday,” Dickerson said.

He also also quick to credit volunteers like Merry Conway and Connie Pierce who help out every week.

“I have the easy part in cooking. These ladies do so much in cleaning up,” Dickerson said, indicating the volunteers.

It’s clear the food is good, with people coming back for seconds. One luncher picked up her bread bowl to eat it, exclaiming that, “this is licking the bowl!”

“The food is really good, and homemade soup is really good on a winter day,” said Jacqui Evans.

“No dishes, that’s the good part,” joked Pete Smith.

Dickerson may occasionally twist some arms slightly to get people to come.

“Jody saw us and talked to us, and said, ‘I’m putting your name down, whether you come or not,” said Shelly Reynolds.

But town figures like Police Chief John Garcia and Paul Dawson have also attended the lunch, and it’s clear that it’s getting bigger on its own too.

“It’s gotten bigger. When we first came there were six people, and now it’s packed. People are willing to come out for this,” Evans said.

The recreation department and senior center plan to continue offering lunches throughout the year. In the spring they may do sandwiches and salad, and in the summer a variety of barbecues.

“When people are coming back for seconds and thirds, you know the food is good,” as Gregory put it. But there’s also a social component to the lunch. “I’ve seen people who might not have known each other forming friendships, or the come back and eat together.” Gregory said.    

Soup-er Thursday lunches start at 11:30. Reservations with the Marion Council on Aging are required 48 hours in advance to attend Soup-er Thursday lunches.