Wind whips through all four sides of the only spot for the 90 residents to gather at Five Points

By Vivian Shipe

KNOXVILLE, TN — In a scene that unfolds day after day, reminiscent of a quote attributed to the Queen of France, the elderly at Five Points Residence go without the “food” of  companionship, caring, and fellowship while the rest of the city and county are living and thriving.

Both Mayors have reopened the city and counties of Knoxville. Football games have over 100,000 in attendance, restaurants and festivals overflow with the sounds of laughter and fun as people come together  – glad to be once again in the presence of another human being.

Sign on the door of the Community room at Five Points has been there since May of 2021

Not so at Five Points. The community center is locked and has been since May. Elders who want to have a cup of coffee, receive much need commodities, or even desire to gather together as the rest of the world is doing, must go outside and sit on cold metal benches. The community center is under the direction of the Knoxville Community Development Corporation, (KCDC) and they have said they have no intention of opening the center any time soon. Calls to speak to the director of housing  Kristi Toby, are left unreturned.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming. The holidays are some of the most depressing times of the year for many. The elderly, many of whom sometimes have no family – can be the worst affected. The good times of the past, when they were mobile and healthy, able to travel and be with family, for many are no longer possible. Many have out lived their families and friends, and for some, there is no one else but the friends and neighbors in the facilities in which they live.

The National Poll on Healthy Aging numbers show seniors feel more isolated now than they did before the pandemic. Social contacts, so important to the elderly are way down with over 46 percent reporting the felt like they have less companionship than ever before. That poll is reflective of the 90 residents who live in Five Points.

The community has been outraged by the lack of compassion and movement on the part of KCDC.  Commodities have not been delivered in the past and just last week –  there was no one to meet the delivery driver bringing hot meals given by another agency.- the sign on the door says – this room is closed. Over the past few years – Thanksgiving dinners for the elderly were held – when the center was open. 

Not so this year.

Offers from community groups and churches to hold bring food to the center for a Thanksgiving dinner –  even if held inside the lobby of the center have fallen on deaf ears. Community members are planning to attend the County Commission meeting on November 15th and the KCDC board meeting on December 9th.

Those wishing to address the KCDC board are being encouraged to sign up for the public forum at : jrussell@kcdc.org

As this story is being typed, it is 33 degrees outside.

Loneliness kills… isolation kills….

So does cake.