By Mary Owen
Books – or at least a place to put them – hooked Greg McWayne and his wife, Ruth, into starting a senior center in Stayton.
“My wife and I lived in Tigard for 25 years before moving to Stayton in the fall of 2000,” McWayne explained. “Tigard had a very nice senior center that a friend of ours managed. We visited it many times while donating books to its library. When we moved here, I had hundreds of books that I wanted to donate, but found out that there was no senior center.”
So the McWayne’s rolled up their sleeves, and with the help of longtime Stayton resident Lee Hazelwood, started the Santiam Senior Center two years ago, a venture that died from lack of interest.
“We decided we would wait to re-open until there was more interest,” he said.
Along came Stayton resident Shelly Lokan, who asked City Administrator Don Eubanks about the possibility of a new center, and interest was rekindled.
“We hope to revive the Santiam Senior Center and make it a valuable asset for the community,” McWayne said.
A public meeting held Feb. 25 drew about 20 area seniors. Four volunteered to join the existing board members, McWayne and Hazelwood, and now only a seventh is needed to spearhead the move to revive the former center.
“We discussed activities to have at the center and where to have it,” McWayne said. “I also talked about the importance of volunteering to help get the center up and running.”
Once running, Santiam Senior Center will offer seniors 50 and older card and board games, bingo, possibly some peer-taught classes, a few outings and “always coffee and good conversation,” McWayne said.
Two locations shave been scoped out: the Stayton Community Center or Marion Estate’s former Maurice’s Bistro.
“At this point we’re not sure if we’ll use just one or both,” said McWayne. “We have also had a very generous offer from the Y on Third Street to use their facility part-time.”
A second public meeting was held March 25 to discuss location, hours and committees.
“We also plan on surveying the community to measure the level of interest and where people would like to see it sited,” McWayne said. “Our ultimate dream is to have our own center, not in someone else’s building.”
No start date has been set, but McWayne hopes it will be “as soon as possible.”
To help, call McWayne at 503-910-5900.
“I cannot stress enough, if the people of Stayton really want to have a senior center, they are going to have to be willing to volunteer and work toward that goal. It’s not easy, and it takes a lot of time and a lot of people helping out,” McWayne said.