Senior center marks its 10th anniversary

Tours, dancing and free blood pressure test part of events

October 29, 2006|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,sun reporter

Standing inside the main entrance to the Westminster Senior Activities and Community Center, Sylvia Marks and Vic Cohen greeted visitors, handed out programs and invited them to tour the facility.

Across the hall in the multipurpose room, a class of line dancers demonstrated their skill.

"We got some people who can't see or hear, and they dance along," Marks said.

Down the hall toward the Bureau of Aging offices, members of the Senior Inclusion Program created ceramic mugs. Samples of their work, including two stuffed scarecrows, were on display.

Cohen pointed out a computer lab where classes are held twice weekly, a ping pong table and the exercise room.

Backtracking toward the dining room where punch and finger foods were offered, visitors passed a table with brochures on safe driving for seniors, road safety, traveling with grandchildren, and MADD and AARP.

The Carroll County Health Department offered free blood pressure checks and information.

Other rooms held billiard tables where several men were playing; a game room with some women sitting at the tables; and another craft room with more seniors busy making ceramics, where "we have our own kiln," Cohen noted.

Many of the seniors are members, but others "are here for the first time," said Marks, who took visitors Marion Ruffino, 83, and her daughter, Sharon Alvis, on a tour of the center.

"We just moved up from Anne Arundel County," Ruffino said. "I'm looking for some place to go for activities and to make new friends."

Alvis said she plans to work part-time and was looking for some place her mother could go, "instead of just sitting around the house waiting for me to come home."

For Angela Saxton, the day was just one of many she has spent at the senior center, volunteering, playing bingo and attending talks. "I've been coming here 10 years, four days a week, and I volunteered in the old center for eight years," she said proudly. "It's a wonderful, wonderful place."

By noon, an estimated 200 people had passed through the doors of the Westminster center, celebrating its 10th anniversary. Center manager Paul Garver said he had ordered 140 lunches, way over the usual 30 to 35 for a normal Wednesday.

"Anytime we have anything special, it really jumps up," he said.

And Wednesday was special. During an anniversary program before lunch, the county commissioners, Maryland State Department of Aging Secretary Jane Roesser, and Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski's assistant Julianna Albowicz presented citations to Garver for the center's birthday.

The commissioners proclaimed Oct. 25 as Westminster Senior Activities and Community Center Day, and Commissioner Julia W. Gouge recalled people talking to her in her first term about the need for such a center.

"We've given new life to many people through the senior centers," Gouge said. "You seniors give of yourself, your time and your talents, and you've made a difference in the lives of the people who come here."

Commissioner Dean L. Minnich recalled how important the North Carroll Senior Center was to his mother after his father died. Commissioner Perry L. Jones Jr. stressed the importance of a place for the fastest growing segment of the population to go to socialize, dine and exercise together.

"This is a very special place, you have so many activities," Roesser told the crowd. "It's so vibrant and that's what we seniors need -- to stay involved."

Jolene Sullivan, director of the Carroll County Department of Citizen Services, reminded the visitors how some criticized the center, calling it the "Taj Mahal" for being more than was needed, size- and money-wise.

"For all you have given back, the building has been paid back many, many times," Sullivan said.

Recently appointed chief of the Bureau of Aging, Richard Steinberg praised the county leadership and his staff for being able "to get the day to day activities that the senior citizens richly deserve. We ask you to keep coming back and bring a friend with you."

After lunch, the day's festivities concluded with a performance by one of the seniors' favorites, the Flying Scotsman.

"He plays the keyboard and accordion, and we dance," Marks said.

ellie.baublitz@baltsun.com

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