Lisa Washington went through the senior citizens community and asked them what they would like to do if they could have a day to do anything.
“40% said, ‘Go to the casino,’” Washington said. “And I said ‘Go to the casino?’ and they said ‘Yeah. We don’t have a way to go to the casino.’”
Among other popular choices was going to breakfast and lunch, Washington said. So now, she has rolled all three into one.
The McKinney resident has organized a “Senior Skip Day” event. A bus fitting 52 people will take seniors and any required caregivers to the casino, which will give each senior $15 of free play and buffet access. Since organizing the outing, Washington has been collecting the names of seniors interested in going in preparation for the July 19 drawing that will determine who gets to go.
Since then, she’s gotten widespread interest from seniors who want to participate — she’s even been stopped at the Dollar Tree by people who want to know how to get on the list, she said.
“I’ve got people that want to go but never had the opportunity to go, nobody wanted to take them,” Washington said.
The trip marks the first outing organized by Lead By Example, an organization founded by Washington in December and designed to reduce social isolation and improve the health and well-being of older adults. With the organization having officially launched during a pandemic, Lead By Example’s activities have so far included dispersing Valentine’s Day gift baskets to seniors, hosting a Mother’s Day gift basket raffle and Dad of the Year basket event as well as getting 2,153 COVID-19 vaccines rolled out to the community.
Now that more people have been vaccinated for COVID-19, outings are a possibility for the organization.
“We want to get them out of their houses now,” Washington said. “Even though they’ve been vaccinated, they stay in the house.”
Washington and her team, which includes board of directors members Mikhail Tutson and Chris Thornton, are working toward the future of Lead By Example, which serves seniors in Collin County. That includes getting a building for the organization and even giving seniors part-time jobs.
“They want to work part time,” Washington said. “They need money to supplement the money they’ve got coming in.”
Those seniors would take calls from other senior citizens in what Washington envisions as a call bank that can provide seniors what they need, be it medication help, transportation help or conversation.
Moving forward, Washington said she’s looking to collaborate with other nonprofits in the community to see how they can help seniors and how Lead By Example can help those other organizations.
“We don’t want everybody to think that we’re just a nonprofit that only services District 1,” Washington said. “This is for the whole community.”
Her plans include organizing a senior citizens prom, helping seniors get post-pandemic mortgage relief and hosting events like “Coffee with Seniors.”
Now that the organization’s website, leadbyexample20.org, has launched, Washington said Lead By Example is seeking donations and asking community members to sponsor a senior — even if that senior is a mom or dad.
“As adults now, it’s our turn to take care of our parents,” she said. “And I’m not saying that we have to do anything that’s drastic. But it’s our chance. It’s time for us to start doing for our community and doing for our parents.”