Santa makes early visit

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 30, 2008

The Selma Times-Journal

Ola Norwood didn&8217;t expect to see Santa Claus in June.

The jolly old elf was a surprise guest at a special party Friday at the Epworth House, 2500 Franklin St.

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Norwood, 79, is one of the residents of the independent living retirement complex who ate ice cream and listened to funny stories by Steven South and Calvin &8220;Santa Claus&8221; Ross of Cooper Brothers Construction Co.

The contractors threw a party for the house residents they came to know after they worked on the installation on a sprinkler system from February to May.

The 48 residents of Epworth form a racially diverse group that is like family. The way they live together in harmony served as an inspiration to the construction crew.

The Methodist Home for the Aging Corporation manages the Epworth House, but residency is not restricted to members of the church. It&8217;s open to all persons aged 62 or older.

Betty Dunkin, Epworth&8217;s director, has overseen the facility&8217;s operation for five years. She loves her job and the residents. She said the house is a place where &8220;everybody knows everybody.&8221;

Alean Givner, 95, is Epworth&8217;s oldest resident.

Treating people like she wants to be treated is the key to harmonious living.

Santa Claus sparked memories for Betty Nichols, who is also known as Mrs. Claus. Her late husband, Cecil &8220;Nick&8221; Nichols was a Santa. In the late 1960s, Nick worked as Santa in the Teppers department store on Broad Street and at the Gibson Shopping Center on Citizens Parkway.

The sprinkler installation called for drilling holes in the apartment ceilings. Because residents had to give up their living quarters for hours while the work was done, the contractors brought them lunch as a token of appreciation for their cooperation. South said throwing parties is not a usual practice for the construction company.