Throughout May, senior centers in Gonzales and Donaldsonville are celebrating Older Americans Month.

The centers, operated by the Ascension Council on Aging, held a picnic on May 15 in Donaldsonville and hosted informational talks and presentations.

More than 150 senior clients from the Gonzales and Donaldsonville senior centers attended the picnic, said COA Executive Director Darlene Schexnayder. Seniors listened and danced to music and enjoyed sno-balls from Jeanne Vicknair, of Gonzales, she said.

Attendants were served fried fish, potato salad, green peas, cornbread and homemade desserts for lunch.

Ascension Council on Aging has daily activities at both senior centers such as FAST, Yoga, PIYO, Zumba Gold and Pilates exercises classes, trips, crafts, games, dances, parties, Karaoke and bridge club meetings, and speakers on various health subjects.

When Older Americans Month was established in 1963, only 17 million Americans had reached their 65th birthdays. About a third of older Americans lived in poverty and there were few programs to meet their needs, a news release from the COA said.

Interest in older Americans and their concerns was growing, however.

In April 1963, President John F. Kennedy’s meeting with the National Council of Senior Citizens served as a prelude to designating May as Senior Citizens Month.

In 1980, President Jimmy Carter’s designated May’s Senior Citizens Month as Older Americans Month.

Historically, Older Americans Month has been a time to acknowledge the contributions of past and current older persons to the United States, in particular those who defended it, the release said.

Every president since JFK has issued a formal proclamation during or before the month of May asking that the entire nation to pay tribute in some way to older persons in their communities.

Older Americans Month is celebrated across the country with ceremonies, events, fairs and picnics.

For more information, call the Donaldsonville Senior Center at (225) 473-3789 or the Gonzales Senior Center at (225) 621-5750.