Nifty fifty: Senior Center welcomes younger crowd

October 2017 Posted in Community

By Nancy JenningsIMG_5231 (2)

Fifty is the new 60 at Silverton’s senior center. The lower age requirement for center membership took effect in April, and the center hopes to add fresh faces to its current 546 members.

“More exercise classes will be offered late in the day when more people who work can get there and participate,” Kathy Hunter said.

Kathy is the chair of the Fundraising-Activities Committee. She and her husband, Ray, have been active members of the Silverton Senior Center since 2007.

Ray started out delivering Meals on Wheels as a volunteer and has been a fixture there ever since.
He is the building manager and is a past president,
having served on an earlier board.

He and the early board members were instrumental in the design of the center.

“Public Works has done a great job supporting the center,” he added.

“The city owns the land and the building. We get to rent it, so we’re responsible for the interior to a certain extent,” Kathy said.

Ray has recently been appointed to the board for one year. He recalled the strict stipulation the grant terms placed on the original member eligibility.

“It was a (government) block grant. For the first five years, the age had to be 60.”

“The age restriction caused a lot of controversy in the community,” Kathy added. “Some donors couldn’t even walk into the center if they weren’t 60.”

Aging can be a sensitive topic, and for some, it comes with negative connotations. Not everybody embraces being associated with the word “senior.”

Senior Center Executive Director Dodie Brockamp chooses to think on the positive side – and extend greater flexibility to new members.

“Let’s focus on the future. I want everybody to be available to having all kinds of information for proactive aging,” she said. “We are looking to offer activities in the evenings and on weekends, changing our hours and being more accessible to people still in the workforce.”

Social activities have included meals, concerts, casino day-trips, talent shows and barbeques. More fun is planned.

“It’s a wonderful place for community gatherings and you can take advantage of some of the benefits. People need to look at it in a different way than just the age factor,” Kathy said.

Fundraising events are common at the center – and the community shows its support year-round.

“All-age fundraisers are required to allocate that the money goes specifically to the center,” Kathy said. When the door was opened to all, things really changed. For example, everybody can go on the casino outings as long as they’re at least 21.”

Brockamp encourages the 50+ age group to get a head start by being proactive before entering the next decade in their lives.

“There’s a lot of information they need to have before they’re 60. We want them to know ahead of time so they can make better informed choices,” she said.

The center’s plans include activities geared toward giving back to the community to show its appreciation.

“Maybe that will be in the form of a scholarship, sponsoring another event or having a donor’s party,” Brockamp said.

For information, check out the center’s updated website: silvertonseniorcenter.org, drop by the center at 115 Westfield St., or see the Silverton Senior Center’s activities ad in Our Town.

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