Celia Kalousek is quite popular among St. John’s senior population. This is no doubt because of her bingo-calling skills, which she exercises weekly at the St. Ursula’s senior center, where she volunteers each Wednesday.
For four years, Kalousek has been spending her Wednesday lunch hours with a dedicated group of seniors at St. Ursula’s Multipurpose Center.
“I’ve lived here for five years and been doing bingo for four years,” said Kalousek. “Weeks after I moved here, I asked around for a senior center, because seniors are always a really good group of people.”
Kalousek found St. Ursula’s Multipurpose Center and the rest, as they say, is history.
Good Bonding Experience
“I ordered the big cage with the bingo balls in it, and just started right in,” said Kalousek. “I worked with elderly people in Atlanta, and when I moved down here I didn’t know anybody, so I figured it would be another good bonding experience.”
Kalousek had to work to earn acceptance from one of the seniors, she explained.
“The first time I went, there was this lady named Edna who has since passed away, and I knew she was like a gatekeeper,” said Kalousek. “At first, she was like, ‘bingo — that’s gambling.’ I said, ‘you’re not paying to play so it’s not gambling.’”
The woman accepted bingo as a pastime after she and Kalousek had a bonding experience one evening.
“I met her at church one night and kind of bonded with her,” said Kalousek. “She was like, ‘okay, it’s cool since you don’t pay to play.’”
Donates Time, Money
In addition to donating her time, Kalousek donates her money to the seniors as well.
“I’ll go to the grocery and get $20 worth of canned goods, fruits or whatever, and I’ll mix it in with things I get from friends,” said Kalousek. “It’s the best $20 a week I spend.”
Kalousek continues to call bingo numbers until everyone playing has had bingo and received a small prize. Then, the first person who covers their card gets a bigger prize.
Kalousek’s bingo game even features an exercise portion — getting up to retrieve a prize after winning bingo.
Bingo Calling Skills
“The good thing about it is it forces them to concentrate, and it improves hand-eye coordination,” said Kalousek. “We joke and say that the exercise portion of the program is getting up to get your prize.”
Augustina Baez, who works at St. Ursula’s, has been playing bingo with Kalousek for about a month.
“It’s entertaining, and Celia is a good bingo caller,” said Baez.
Carol Bagley, who has been playing bingo for a year and a half, enjoys the camaraderie of the game, she explained.
“We all get together and we have a good time,” said Bagley.
Elizabeth Steven, a dedicated player who has been with Kalousek since the beginning, also complimented her bingo calling skills.
“Celia is my favorite,” said Steven.
John Gagliotti also credited Kalousek for his desire to keep coming back to play bingo.
“I’ve been coming here three years,” said Gagliotti. “She is wonderful and has a beautiful personality.”
Kalousek enjoys her time with the elderly, who are valuable to society, she explained.
“It just makes me feel good to see them, because I think the elderly are so valuable,” said Kalousek. “If we would just stop and listen to what they have to say, we’d save ourselves a lot of trouble.”
Spending time with the seniors helps put things in perspective for Kalousek, she explained.
“They put things in perspective,” said Kalousek. “When I’ve had a hard day at work, I go to the center and they’re just wrapping up their prayer session. It’s so nice and so fun; it just feels good.”
The weekly bingo game is beneficial to the seniors, because it encourages them to get out and socialize, according to Kalousek.
Bringing People Together
“It gives them something to do, and it’s also kind of exciting,” she said. “It allows them to participate in something together, and the camaraderie is just fun. You have all different personality types sitting together at the table.”
“We crack jokes and chat about little things that pop up,” she said. “It’s kind of a nice way to bring people together and chat.”
The public is invited to donate prizes for the bingo game. Donations can be marked “bingo prizes” and should be dropped off at St. Ursula’s.
All elderly people are welcome to the bingo game, which takes place every Wednesday from 11 a.m. to noon at the St. Ursula’s Multipurpose Center.