On March 8, the Elliottorian Business and Professional Women’s Club presented SaTrice Coleman-Betts with the organization’s first Harriet Tubman Service Award.

Since receiving the award, Coleman-Betts’ service has become even more vital to the people she provides services to as executive director of the St. Patrick Senior Center in Detroit.

Coleman-Betts said the COVID-19 pandemic has caused her to work even more closely with community partners to ensure the center continues to meet the needs of area seniors as much as possible during these critical times.

“I’m on the phone with DAAA (Detroit Area Agency on Aging) every day; conference calls with the (City of Detroit) Health Department; there are nursing students from Madonna (University) doing wellness checks on some members; we are trying to think outside the box to make sure essential services are still provided,” said Coleman-Betts, whose center provides a home away from home for more than 2,000 seniors year-round.  “For example, we want to keep our non-emergency medical transportation going because we know a missed dialysis appointment can be a life or death issue.”

While St. Patrick Senior Center has had to suspend all classes, dance programs and other enrichment activities during the current public health crisis, St. Pats’ enduring impact across Detroit was still recently illustrated when two of the center’s members—Oscar Paskal and Houston Pritchett—celebrated their 100th birthdays on consecutive days.

“Without St. Pats I don’t know how I would have made it this far,” said Pritchett, who turned 100 on Tuesday, March 24.  “I started coming to St. Pats in 2001 or 2002 and it just made life a whole lot easier for me. It’s just a lot of nice people that get along good like family and look out for each other.”

Pritchett’s sentiment is shared by Paskal, whose 100th birthday was Monday, March 23.

“St. Pats makes you feel like you’re a part of an extended family; you feel at home there,” said Paskal, who has called Detroit his permanent home since right after the end of World War II.

If not for the COVID-19 pandemic, festive birthday celebrations would have already been presented in Mr. Pritchett’s and Mr. Paskal’s honor by St. Pats. But despite having to delay the celebrations, the members are still very much on the mind of Coleman-Betts.

“We certainly miss all of our members because they are the driving force of what makes St. Pats, St. Pats,” she said.  “We serve seniors that come from diverse backgrounds and have different needs.  With Mr. Paskal, his desire is to stay physically independent and be active, and he benefits from the socialization too.  And for Mr. Pritchett, it’s all about socialization.  He’s still into going out and dancing, and partying, and having companionship.  St. Pats gives him a safe place to have all of that because our members are free to mold the center into what meets their needs.”

St. Patrick Senior Center has been committed to improving the quality of lives of seniors in metropolitan Detroit since 1973, and has been designated as the model senior center in metro Detroit and throughout the state by the Detroit Area Agency on Aging.  For more information on the St. Patrick Senior Center, please visit


This feature was submitted by Scott Talley