BOWIE – The Senior Center celebrated 15 years of serving, supporting, and enhancing the lives of senior citizens 55 years and older Monday evening.

The center has been a county presence since 1977 and provides programs and services that promote active, independent, and healthy lifestyles. Currently, 2,700 people have memberships, said Manager Katherine White, and about 300 members attend various activities on a daily basis.

“We have a ton of fun activities such as stain glass class, pilates, ballet, tap dance, Tai Chi, and ballroom dancing,” White said.

The National Institute of Senior Centers dubbed the center “the model senior home of the nation.”

The center’s 15-year anniversary began in the morning with a performance from a jazz pianist and then a classical piano presentation at an evening mixer.

Residents, members, and their families gathered for a tour of the campus, providing an opportunity for visitors to see the fitness rooms, classrooms, and computer labs.

A partnership with Prince George’s Community College provides the center with teachers and classes for members who are 60 years old and up.

“Education for the seniors gives them the opportunity to do something they did not get a chance to do when they were younger,” said White.

Volunteer David Hackenberg, helps run the computer department at the senior center.

He said the computer department teaches a number of classes that range from a beginner level to advanced for Microsoft Office programs such as Word and Excel.

“Each class fills up fast since most of the seniors have been out of work for a while and are longing to email grandchildren, have jobs, and use social media,” Hackenberg said.

The oldest senior member at the center is 102 years old and according to the staff, “she dresses to the nines and she’s very active.” She usually pulls all of her energy together to play bridge with the other members on Fridays.

Most of the seniors have lost spouses, co-workers, and family members, so the center provides them with opportunities to remain social.

“Here, they find friendship and it gives them a reason to wake up in the morning,” said Assistant Manager Laurel Raymond.

The center’s management remains open to suggestions on what new activities to make available at the facility, Raymond said.

“We always have our eyes and ears open to the input of the seniors and we have the opportunity to be so creative because of the support from the City of Bowie, our staff, and our 150 volunteers.”

 

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