50-year span: Senior center broadens programs to serve wide-ranging interests

January 2019 Posted in Business, Community

By Melissa Wagoner

“Our goal is to be the hub of all things senior and to be all things social,” Silverton Senior Center Executive Director Dodie Brockamp said. With nearly 1,000 visitors to the Center every year, she has a big job on her hands.

“What I look at are the seven dimensions of wellness (physical, emotional, intellectual, social, spiritual, environmental and occupational),” Brockamp explained. “I look at that as I’m thinking of program ideas. Then I look at trying things three different ways. By the third time you usually realize – is it going to work or not going to work?”

Although Brockamp has over 30 years of experience as an activities director in long-term care facilities, coming up with programs that will keep the center’s nearly 700 members with a five generation age span engaged can be quite a challenge.

“We have 92 members who are under 60,” Senior Center Board President Darlene Blackstone said. “We have a 50-year span because our youngest member is 50. How do you provide for five decades of needs? We have the paper and pencil generation and then there’s email.”

Blackstone said the biggest challenge since the center dropped its membership age to 50 has been planning around those who still work and making accommodations for those who are tech savvy as well as those who are not.

“They’re not all old people up here,” Brockamp noted. “They’re really active folks.”

Dodie and Darlene

And active people often require a lot of stimulation, which is why Brockamp has been amping up the offerings to include more exercise programs like yoga, Zumba, Tai Chi and line dancing; more resource and educational events, including technology training, gardening, writing and painting; and greater connections with the outside community, including people of all ages, even children.

“We’re trying to be more multi-generational,” she said. “We’re also trying to work into the community.”

The center’s funding originally came mostly through the City of Silverton. Now it primarily consists of membership dues and private donations but Brockamp is working toward increasing the income from regular facility rentals and attendance at center fundraising events as well.

“We want people to know that you can rent the facilities and continue to support our Thrift Shop as well,” she said.

But more than anything both Brockamp and Blackstone want Silverton’s estimated 3,000 eligible seniors to know that the Center’s doors are open for resources, recreation or just as a place to hang out.

“We have people who come up and bring their laptops (we have Wi-Fi) or just sit and read,” Blackstone said. “It’s like a big living room. This just feels like home.”

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