Head of Hospitality

By on April 16, 2014


Edna Fox, 97, began as a Cocalico Senior

Center volunteer 24 years ago.


Edna Fox, left, with friends Clara Ingram (middle)  and Iris Weaver at Cocalico Senior Center.

Edna Fox, left, with friends Clara Ingram (middle) and Iris Weaver at Cocalico Senior Center.

The U.S. flag had 48 stars, Woodrow Wilson resided at the White House, and the new Chicago Cubs won its first game 7-6 over the Reds.

Edna Fox debuted brightly that year as well, arriving at her parent’s South Heidelberg farm in BerksCounty on Dec. 3, 1916.

Edna, who at 97 is as bright as ever, marked her 24th year as a volunteer at the CocalicoSeniorCenter.

Her secret?

“Keep moving, keep busy — have something to keep your mind going,” Edna said.

That’s not really a secret to those who know her.

“Always do something,” she advised. “Don’t sit there and look at the four walls.”

That’s wise advice from a woman who has lived nearly a century and is still not ready to slow down.

You’ll see her just about any weekday at the CocalicoSeniorCenter, 156 W. Main St., in Reinholds which is open to seniors of all ages.

The eighth of 10 children to William and Sally Henry, Edna grew up without electricity or running water while sharing a straw mattress with two sisters.

A root cellar — in the days before refrigeration — stored dry meats and vegetables in the Pennsylvania Dutch home. Edna learned to speak English in a one-room schoolhouse while in first grade.

“I thought I had a good time going through,” Edna said when asked about growing old and living the life she has lived.

She started working in a hosiery mill at 14 and eventually met Harold Fox with whom she had four boys and a girl.

Edna never learned to drive and walked to the hosiery mill where she worked for 27 years.

But life had a lot left in store for Edna even after retiring from the mill.

That’s when she started volunteering.

“No one else wanted to do it so I did it,” she said of her decision 24 years ago.

Edna’s been volunteering there nearly every day, five days a week ever since.

“It’s good to be around people,” she said.

That motivation has prompted her week after week — taking the Red Rose Transit — to dedicate her time to the center.

Edna keeps busy at the center filling the steam tables for the noontime meal, helping to serve lunch, cleaning up, and sanitizing the lunch utensils and dishes if no one else can.

Edna schedules the local ministers for Monday morning Bible Study group, sets up the chairs, and leads the singing.

She serves as “Head of Hospitality,” and sends cards to sick or hospitalized community members and those in need encouragement or support. As the Project Council Representative, Edna had traveled by bus four times a year to report on the happenings at the Center and then return to report on what the other centers were doing.

But it’s not all hard work and no play for Edna who’ll even lead the Friday morning exercise class if need be.

Some of Edna’s favorite things to do for fun at the center and at home are Wii bowling, crocheting and knitting baby caps, prayer shawls, afghans and reading books borrowed from the center.

Though she’s busy much of the time, there’s one activity Edna truly misses.

“I used to love baking,” said Edna and she enjoyed making cookies and custards for friends, family and fellow seniors at the center.

Edna exemplifies what matters most in life: family, service, and giving to others.

When asked what was the favorite time in her 97 years, Edna replied: “Raising children before I worked.”

• There is no cost to attend CocalicoSeniorCenter. It’s fully funded by the Office of the Aging. Fun, food, education, health assessments, bible study, games, entertainment, and bus trips to local area stores, theaters, and restaurants are just some of the many things offered Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information contact Mary Sue Ruth, Center manager at 717-336-7489 or at cocseniorctr@dejazzd.com. Donations are welcomed.

Gretchen L. Kimble welcomes your feedback at Gkimble73@hotmail.com.¶

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