Senior council stays busy solving center's problems

November 09, 1994|By Dolly Merritt | Dolly Merritt,Special to The Sun

It's little things such as providing ashtrays outside the building that keep the 11 members of the Florence Bain Senior Center Council busy.

The council, which began in 1983 when the center opened, is intended to give senior citizens a hand in the Florence Bain center's daily operations through suggestions, criticisms and volunteer activities.

"We get a few complaints each month," said Everett B. Johnson, chairman of the council since September 1993. "Letting us know about ways to improve is good; it keeps people alert."

At monthly meetings attended by Arleen Kvech, director of the center, council members discuss such problems as inadequate lighting in the parking area and speeding cars in front of the center.

And a suggestion box and information table at the center encourages seniors to share their ideas about ways the Florence Bain Senior Center can be improved.

"We are watching out for the convenience and safety of senior citizens," said Beverly Parish, 75, a Columbia resident who is a new member on the council. "We want to do anything we can to make the center better so that people can really enjoy it."

Members of the council are elected each year to staggered two-year terms, six of them elected during even-numbered years and five during odd-numbered years.

Among the council's recent accomplishments are handrails for the disabled along the sides of the walls, a speaker system for the hearing-impaired and new felt for pool tables in the game room.

One of the council's biggest projects, replacement of 500 chairs, began three years ago when Ruth Alter, a council member for seven years, was chairwoman. After having seen several people trip on the protruding legs of the old chairs and having fallen herself, the Columbia resident, now 76, suggested obtaining new ones.

Mrs. Alter and Mr. Johnson attended a County Council meeting to explain the problem, and the project got under way with money provided by the county. The senior center council selected the new chairs after considering six vendors and 24 models.

"We were looking for a chair that most people would like," Mr. Johnson said. "We tried to get opinions from seniors. Generally, they would tell us what they wanted; they would sit in the new chairs on display and tell us."

The council picked a stable, stackable, easy to move chrome and Naugahyde chair. The new chairs have been in use since September.

The council's latest project is to work to get a speed bump in front of the center. Council members say speeding traffic from a neighboring shopping center has created a safety hazard.

Other projects under consideration include the replacement of unstable tables, the advertisement of rental space at Florence Bain and dollies to place beneath the two pianos at the center.

Occasionally, the council conducts fund-raising events, such as collecting money for the hungry.

In general, however, "we try to work with problems if they affect seniors' safety," Mr. Johnson said.

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