Serving Senior Citizens Over 60 in Sunnyside with Mayor of Sunnyside Sandra Massie Hines

by Dr. Sheila Pope

I have loved working with senior citizens for most of my life because of Zeffie Lee Frazier, my aunt, who took care of me while my parents worked. While my cousins Lorraine Joseph, Charlie Mae, and Joann Smith were at school, I was with Muh (Zeffie).

My days were filled with activities. I watched the Edge of Night. I collected the eggs out of the hen house. I ate homemade biscuits and drank coffee at the age of six. I think Muh was around 50 when I was six. Muh’s love and nurturing shielded me from my mother’s and father’s dysfunctional relationship. Muh helped me figure out who I was as a child and as a woman. I thought I was white for a year or two because of my complexion and my long hair (Lol!).

When I was 16, I returned to Winnfield. Louisiana. I would sit on the front porch with Uncle Charlie and Muh and tell them my dreams. I know they were over 65 at the time. I was ambitious at a young age. She believed me. On our many fishing trips, she had me drive her and Alice to go fishing. Alice and Muh we well over sixty and very independent. I dumped spit jars filled with Snuff.

My first job was in Winnfield, Lousiana at Troy’s Supermarket. Muh’s encouraged me to apply for the job. She explained to me why it was important for people to work for a living. She was my first cheerleader. I am not sure when dementia started to steal memories of me from Muh but I never lost my memories of her and my childhood.

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I have advocated for senior citizens because of the love and kindness I received from a senior citizen named Zeffie Frazier. People do not know, I fought for seniors like Marie Johnson from Acres Homes and for the ladies over 55 who worked in the kitchen over at Spring Branch Hospital before I became a teacher. Those ladies almost died from the stress and phsycial requirements of working in a hot industrial sized kitchen. Working with those senior citizens made me respect the value of a college degree. I was not designed to wash dishes in a hospital kitchen. I washed those dishes long enough for me to get to know each of ladies I was assigned to help. I was able to help them obtain their disability, helped one retire (hospital tried to fire her), and helped them obtain their social security. I even learned how to help one senior obtain her widow’s benefits.

I was never paid with money. I gained knowledge of how government systems worked. I learned literacy was critical. Many of the seniors I helped could not read. I learned I was smart and could do more by myself than I thought. After advocating for the seniors at Spring Branch, I thought I was going to become a lawyer. I became an educator instead. I still wonder how those seniors worked in the kitchen for 20 years.

I am sharing my story because the Mayor of Sunnyside, Sandra Massie Hines helped me to refocus my vision. She reminded me that money is not everything. She reminded me that I have a greater calling and God will order my steps to do more than I have ever thought. I woke up ready to continue my passion to do what I am called to do in business and in the Sunnyside community serving children and senior citizens.

Ms. Sandra Massie Hines and Harris County Sheriff Department

You are Appreciated!

God has partnered me with two community leaders in Sunnyside: Mr. Allen Provost, Treasurer of Peoples United Summit and Mayor Sandra Massie Hines, founder of Junior Achievers and Sunnyside Silver Hair Senior Group, Inc so I can stay focused and walk by faith to serve senior citizens and children while I continue to build my businesses.

I want to encourage each my readers to listen to your inner voice to help giuide you do the thing you know you are called to do in business and in the community. I want you to know serving others and volunteering are underrated. Being happy, helping others, and being at peace is priceless.

An Ode to Zeffie Frazier, “Muh” by Dr. Sheila Pope

Doing God’s work does not go unnoticed. Today, I was moved to tears when Ms. Wallace, age 64, shared her testimony while sitting in my Traverse. Ms. Johnson (bottom photo), 83 and my play grandmother, moved to the nursing home after she almost died on several occasions in her hot house in Acres Homes. She only had one A.C. window unit in the 20 plus years she stayed in the rent house on Maxroy.  Today, Ms. Johnson lives in a Westhaven Residential with central air and heat and around the clock medical care. She has been safe and happy for two years. My mind has been at peace too.

Ms. Wallace is legally blind and currently living in a hot house without central air in Acres Home. In June, after visiting the nursing home with me, Ms. Wallace passed out and was hospitalized. I have been trying to get Ms. Wallace to move for two years. Last month, she heard a snake crawing around in the walls. The snake catcher came but could not catch the snake. I feared for her safety. She often burns or undercooks her food because she cannot see what she is doing.

Today, she stated that she was finally ready to move.  We praised God in the SUV for her “Greater.”  I thanked God for “my greater!” She shared her testimony and I cried like a baby. Luckily, she could not see me. We forget some senior citizens do not have central air and heat. She said she almost froze to death in January because she only has a floor heater.

I went to help Ms. Wallace today, but she helped me instead. She moved me and touched my heart with her words and her testimony. She reminded me of how important it is to obey God and do what He asked even when I do not want to do it. She reminded me of how good God has been to me. 

More importantly, she reminded me that she “saw” my efforts to help her as a blessing; she reminded me of the fact that I have helped her and Ms. Johnson for over 20 years; she reminded me that God called me to help my adopted children; she reminded me that I never charged them for helping them; she reminded me that I did not have to help them! 

She reminded me that I loved and respected little old ladies because of a special senior citizen I had in my life named Mrs. Zeffie Frazier (referred to as Muh). Muh practically raised me while my parents worked. I sat with Muh and laughed, ate any and everything, cried too much, learned to tell time, pick eggs out of the chicken coop, walked in hot tar, and watched The Edge of Night and The Price is Right. 

When I turned 16, I got my first job while staying with Muh for the summer. I had my first boyfriend visit from out of town at Muh’s. I drove Muh and Alice to the fish creek. I picked-up Muh’s spit cup and brought her Bitter Garrett’s snuff so much that I never wanted to try dipping!

I have a special place in my heart for senior citizens thanks to Zeffie Frazier’ s love for me. She treated me like I was special. I think our relationship was one of the best relationships I have had. I love Ms. Johnson and Ms. Wallace too. They make me better!