By Ida Brown / firstname.lastname@example.org
The Meridian Star
Valentine's Day isn't just for lovers.
It can be a time to celebrate the young at heart, as well as a time to celebrate lost loved ones who have touched our hearts.
That's the sentiment behind two local events taking place on this heart-filled day: A dance for residents of a local retirement facility with military personnel as dance partners, and a memorial service for caregivers who have lost loved ones in the last year.
Thirty members of the 186th Air Refueling Wing of the Mississippi Air National Guard will don dress blues to dance with residents of Aldersgate Retirement Community.
"This is our way of giving back to the greatest generation," said Master Sgt. Crystal Cummings, president of the unit's NCO Association. "Both male and female members (of the air refueling wing) have signed up to participate. This is one of our favorite activities that we do for our community's seniors throughout the year."
Excitement filled the air of the North Meridian retirement facility as residents prepared for the annual Valentine's Day event.
"The ladies especially get excited, they get to dress up for the dance," said Marsha Hannah, community marketing director at Aldersgate. "The men also look forward to it – and they dress up, too."
The center will be decorated in Valentine's Day decor and refreshments served at the affair, which begins at 3 p.m. Music will include Top 40 tunes.
Eighty-five caregivers who lost loved ones in 2012 will be recognized during a memorial service hosted by Hospice Compassus, Meridian.
Held annually, the date for this year's memorial service coincidentally fell on Valentine's Day.
"But it being held on Valentine's Day seems to make the memorial service a little more special," said Freda Smith, bereavement/volunteer coordinator of the facility, which provides medical care to terminally ill patients. "The caregivers have lost loved ones and here it is Valentine's Day – it's all about love."
The service will begin at 2 p.m. at the Hospice Compassus office, located at 725 Front St. Ext. (in Acme Plaza), and will include a short devotion and special music, and a presentation of handmade bookmarks featuring the poem "Remember Me" to each caregiver. The event will culminate with a balloon release. Refreshments will be served.
Starting this year, two caregivers memorial services will be held; a second service scheduled in July. Smith said future services will be held in January and July.