Celebration held to toast new programs

October 05, 1994|By Dolly Merritt | Dolly Merritt,Special to the Sun

About 100 seniors sang and danced last week during an open house to celebrate new programs that will be held at Wallas Park Recreation Center in Ellicott City.

The programs for seniors age 55 and over are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays.

"There are an awful lot of senior adults who live in Ellicott City who need to get out in order to enrich their lives," said Margaret Dedeian-Smith, recreation coordinator for the Department of Recreation and Parks' senior adult programs.

She hopes the new center will attract residents from the nearby apartment complexes along the U.S. 40 corridor.

In addition to the activities coordinated by the county's Department of Recreation and Parks, Office on Aging and Howard County General Hospital, the center also will be home to other recreational activities, such as line dancing, ballroom dancing and cooking workshops.

The center is housed in a building once rented by the Howard County Youth Program. The county bought the building in 1991 and has made more than $200,000 worth of renovations.

A team of 12 senior volunteers will keep things running Wednesdays and Fridays by greeting visitors and helping with refreshments, cleanup, and activities. Ann Schwing, 68, will be among them.

"These centers have been terrific for me," said Mrs. Schwing, who lives in Ellicott City and visits Florence Bain Senior Center in Columbia twice a week. She plans to help at Wallas Park once a week and teach crafts.

"I have cancer and can't work," she said. "Helping out here gives me a new life."

Getting to the center won't be easy for some seniors, so county officials are making transportation available through the Urban-Rural Transportation Alliance of Howard County, Inc. (URTA).

"URTA is an important feature that is offered because a lot of people are stuck in their apartments," said Mrs. Dedeian-Smith. "If someone needs a ride, all they have to do is call."

Ralph Rich, 75, plans to use the URTA bus. He lives in Marriottsville and no longer has a driver's license. He said he plans to go to the Wallas Park center Wednesdays and Fridays.

Peter Reichardt, 84, and his friend Betty Wolbert, who said she is "70-plus," also enjoy dancing. They went to the Florence Bain center for dancing and plan to do the same at Wallas Park. The two friends, who live in Ellicott City and don't like to drive at night, also said they are especially happy to have a center "in the neighborhood."

Doris Richards, 75, and her husband, Bill, 80, came from Morrell Park in Baltimore to attend last week's open house. They have attended senior centers in Howard, Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties.

"We will go on bus trips if there are any openings, or we will attend whenever there is a special program, especially musical ones, because my husband sometimes will play the bones," said Mrs. Richards, who learned about Wallas Park from a brochure available at Florence Bain.

This week's activities at Wallas Park include a free blood pressure screening today from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

A Friendship Day will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday. Crafts, exercise, a sing-along and line dancing will be featured, with a lecture by Geri Landrum of Howard County General Hospital on "Aging Well." The program is free.

Future senior activities such as Fitness Fun, Tai Chi, Ballroom Dancing, Ballroom Dancing for Singles, Dancing Solo, Line Dancing for Beginners, Angel Ornament Workshop and Fall Hues Straw Wreath will have a fee.

For more information about activities, registration or transportation, call Mrs. Dedeian-Smith at 313-7279.

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