Senior Citizens Center director Karon Weatherman (far right) will lead off the Hopkins County Fall Festival Parade Sept. 13, as parade marshal. Pictured clockwise from far left are James Weatherman, Giakob and Tiffany Beasley, Karon Weatherman, and Jeremy Weatherman.
Photo Courtesy of Karon Weatherman

AFamily Thing

Devotion to Senior Citizens Center and community earn Weatherman Fall Fest Parade Marshal honor

By FAITH HUFFMAN, News-Telegram News Editor

Sept. 7, 2008 - If you were to ask this year's Fall Festival parade marshal to describe herself, she'd simply tell you there's not much to talk about. But get her realtives and her "other family" talking, and you get quite a different picture.

Karon Weatherman is one busy lady. She serves as program and marketing director for the Senior Citizens Center, but that title doesn't begin to describe the many tasks she undertakes.

Weatherman's dedication to the senior citizens she serves -- her "other family," as she calls them -- doesn't end with her assigned duties at the SCC. And she often goes above and beyond the call of duty to assist with problems that crop up, and she doesn't mind going to bat when she believes an injustice has occurred.

"I like helping seniors. I try to be an advocate for them. My seniors are so giving, and they like to have a place to be. They know I love 'em."

The list of duties she shoulders as the senior citizens center director is staggering.

It includes overseeing the Meal-A-Day program, including planning menus, cooking and sometimes delivering meals.

She also coordinates the monthly slate of activities which range from regular games such as 42 and bingo, to weekly movie days, hosting "seniorcize," arranging for one of her seniors to teach knitting and crocheting, and ceramics.

At least once each season, she completely changes the decorations in the center, and she doesn't just put up a few cut-outs and call it a day. She goes all out, decorating entire walls, such as the Western desert theme she used in August.

The same devotion applies when she's planning big events such as the center'sSeniors Prom. The entire facility is transformed with props and wall-to-wall decor, the type of transformation you'd expect at a high school prom or dance, only sometimes better, and always with fewer resources.

Each month, a party is hosted at the SCC recognizing the "regulars" who have a birthday that month.

Weatherman contacts different businesses and groups to offer as many services and opportunities for seniors as possible. She gets sponsors to donate prizes for bingo and other activities. For instance, one business might donate paper goods, detergent or a chair as bingo prizes, while some restaurants provide coupons for free meals. Others donate money or supplies for other activities such as the annual Senior Citizens Prom, or their time and services.

Weatherman tries to find plenty of things to keep the senior center hopping, and she isn't afraid to call on people and groups to present programs on topics of interest to senior citizens, such as frequent health clinics and free blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol screenings.

Weatherman also taught herself how to build a web page so that the center's activities are posted on the Internet, as well as important contact information for agencies seniors often utilize and a calendar of monthly meetings clubs hold at the center.

She's helped facilitate a book exchange program, in which visitors to the center bring literature they want to share. Any senior who wants to read a book on the shelf is welcome to do so.

But her dedication to the people she helps goes far beyond planning activities. She's also their champion.

For instance, Weatherman got involved when one of her older friends who has limited resources was rented an apartment for considerably more than she believed should have been charged, especially after Weatherman found it to be in what she considers a significant state of disrepair and unsafe.

If there's a form to be filled out, Weatherman lends a hand. In fact, after having an Ark-Tex Council of Governments representative on hand a few times to talk to seniors about Medicare plans, Weatherman received the training needed to help seniors sign-up for Medicare Part D.

This spring she helped roughly 00 seniors, who normally wouldn't have to turn in a tax return, fill out economic stimulus packets so they could receive the special tax rebate offered by the federal government.

"I told them if they'd just bring me the papers they needed, and I filled it out and mailed it for them," Weatherman noted.

If one of her seniors needs medical assistance, she sees to it that they get to the doctor. Sometimes that means convincing the senior to get checked out or driving them herself if no one else is available.

When Weatherman's daughter, Tiffany, married Giakob Beasley a year ago, Weatherman had to take a break from preparing the church for the ceremony after one of her "family" had to be hospitalized. The mother of the bride spent the better part of the afternoon at the medical center, going back to the nuptial preparations only after she made sure her friend was OK, one senior noted.

"Why do I love this job? They are my family," said Weatherman, who said her other family members are in Dallas.

Although she was born in Dallas and raised in Mesquite, she's called Sulphur Springs her home since 1990, and accepted her current assignment at the senior center 7 1/2 years ago.

Prior to that, she worked for the Internal Revenue Service in Dallas for 11 years, leaving when her husband, James, Karon's high school sweetheart and husband of 28 years, transferred to the Thermo coal mine. James Weatherman, continued to work at the Thermo mine until the early 1990s when an industrial accident at the Monticello power plant shut down operations at the coal mine, leaving all of the Thermo workers without jobs.

James went into business for himself, with Karon working with him at J&K Construction until March of 2001 when she accepted Senior Citizens Center and Meal A Day Program job.

When she's not at the senior center, Karon is often busy serving on a number of other boards, including Hopkins County Marketing Association, the local FEMA board, Retired Seniors and Volunteers Program (RSVP), Meal-A-Day, Senior Citizens and the CANHelp boards. She also assists Jane Goldsmith with the Alzheimer's Alliance annual walk and the local Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Board.

James helped build the new facility at the Church of the Nazarene, where they attend and Karon enjoys singing with the Praise Team. She also has served as children's pastor and youth director at church.

If all that wasn't enough, this year she will be in charge of Senior Citizens Day during the Fall Festival. By mid-July she'd already slated a full page of vendors and activities, including a program recognizing the man and woman living in the county the longest, the couple living in the county the longest, the oldest person in the county, as well as the oldest man and woman in attendance that day.

When she's not doing all those things, Karon Weatherman says she likes to sing, do crossword puzzles, read, visit Curves and just spent time with her family, which includes her 23-year-old son Jeremy Weatherman, who seems to be following in the path dad set, studying construction science in the architecture department at Texas A&M; 25-year-old daughter Tiffany Beasley, a first grade teacher in Richardson; son-in-law Giakob, who works at The Cheesecake Factory in Dallas; and her hubby James, who she's known since the age of 5.

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