Danville Express

Newsfront - August 17, 2007

'Senior center' to open in September

Vets Hall will be new drop-in spot each weekday

by Natalie O'Neill

Swing by for a card game and some conversation.

That's the message the town is sending seniors starting Sept. 4, when the $180,000 approved to create a better senior recreation program this year will be put into action.

One of the first improvements older adults might notice is that the Veterans Memorial Building will be a social center on weekdays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

"Seniors have an opportunity to drop in, socialize, play games and hang out," said Michelle Lacy, recreation services manager for the town.

Previously seniors could only officially use the center when classes and activities were in session. But now, the center will be the go-to spot for seniors to do as much or as little as they please.

In addition, the money will go to a full time town staff member for seniors, greatly increasing the distribution of the "Silver Streak" newsletter, and new classes and programs that emphasize fitness and healthy lifestyles.

Nearly all of the activities will be held at the Vets Hall, in order to give seniors the feeling they have a spot of their own - a meeting grounds.

"One important thing we have now is a centralized location," Lacy said.

New activities will include current events discussions, cooking classes, weekly silver screen movies, a book club, a walking club, yoga and more. Classes and programs will be offered at little or no cost.

Activities were decided upon by getting feedback from current program users, along with taking results from a senior needs assessment conducted by BW Research Co.

"We are recognizing the fact that we're all getting older and people are living longer. There's a large population that's age 55 and older," said Joe Calabrigo, town manager.

This spring, BW Research estimated that at least 10,300 seniors live in Danville, a number that was taken from the senior residents registered to vote.

Results from the senior assessment showed the majority involved in organized recreation left Danville for the services. This fact indicated improvements were needed, according to Parks and Leisure Services Commission members.

In October, a group of seniors approached the Town Council, citing high numbers of aging population in Danville. They noted they felt senior services were poor for the demographic.

Many seniors then voiced that they wanted an easily accessible, central facility where they could meet.

"We're making a good effort to address the issues raised," Calabrigo said. "We're filling a niche."

As a demographic, seniors are a difficult group to provide recreation for because there is a large age gap, Calabrigo said.

"When you look at seniors, that encompasses a span of 30 years. It's a bit more of a challenge," he said.

Money for extended programs, facilities and staff draws from the town's general fund but doesn't pull from existing programs.

To kick off the new program, the town is inviting seniors to the Vets Hall at 9:30 a.m. for coffee and doughnuts on Tuesday, Sept. 4.

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