Greetings from the Shawnee Senior Center. I’ve been sitting here thinking about the many columns I’ve written about the center in the past year and a half or so. In those columns I’ve tried to pass along to you the activities that are available at the center and how the emphasis in everything we do is to get seniors involved in those activities. And I got to thinking, and because I got to thinking, this is gonna be a little different column.

Greetings from the Shawnee Senior Center. I’ve been sitting here thinking about the many columns I’ve written about the center in the past year and a half or so. In those columns I’ve tried to pass along to you the activities that are available at the center and how the emphasis in everything we do is to get seniors involved in those activities. And I got to thinking, and because I got to thinking, this is gonna be a little different column.

Senior centers were not available in communities back in the ’60s and maybe even the ’70s, and if there were something like that back then (at least where I came from) it was a community center that focused on kids (especially teens) and certainly not the elderly.

People worked until they were 65 or so and then retired and maybe replaced work habits with gardening or watching TV or playing with the grandkids or maybe even touring the country or the world. Sixty-five was looked at as a ripe old age and everyone looked forward to the time they would not have to work and could RETIRE!

But then things took a strange turn, statistics were introduced that said people were living longer, 60 was the new 40 and people were not quite as anxious to retire as they once were. And once they did retire they were not ready to just sit in their living rooms and watch TV (though playing with the grandkids could still be fun). Seniors wanted to still be active and continue to socialize and meet new people, perhaps do new things they hadn’t had the chance to do before and so…….things started to move in a slightly different direction.

As some of you may know or remember the Shawnee Senior Center was started way back in 1984 when the City of Shawnee matched the seniors’ $500,000 with a Community Development Block Grant which allowed for the renovation of the Municipal Auditorium and Gymnasium and added some additional areas for a Senior Center for Shawnee residents. Now those forward thinking seniors are memorialized by a painting that is on the wall above the front desk in the center. And, we are happy to report, one of those ladies in that painting is still a member of the center’s board of directors and that is Ms. Anna J. Brown and we are proud that she still continues to be an active force at our meetings (and her peanut brittle is a delight to the taste buds).

Now everyone is aware that people are retiring later in life now for lots of different reasons: the companies they work for don’t want them to leave, they like working, they might need the money, or maybe they just don’t know what they will do when they retire.

I believe that everyone needs to be busy to be happy. I remember a comment that Jim Walling (known as “Coach” at the center) said when I interviewed him in one of my first columns and it has stuck with me since.

Coach said: “When I had watched all the episodes of Bonanza and Gunsmoke several times I decided I needed to get out of the house and that’s when I came to the center.”

Coach made a lot of sense to me because that’s why I came to the center and I’m guessing some of you come for the same reason.

The things that we have at the center are planned for those of us who are retirement age, whatever age that might be. The activities like the exercise classes are designed to keep us walking and moving with confidence (as well as enjoying the fun and fellowship that comes from within the class). The music that we can dance or listen to reminds us of the days when we were younger and could understand the words and sing along with the artists. We can play cards that were popular when we were younger and enjoy teaching others to play too. The pool tables can bring back memories of those pool halls that were favorite adult places to be when we were younger (and maybe weren’t allowed in them). Gospel singing is a favorite because it reminds us of the time spent in the fellowship of small churches in small hometowns. The Spinning Spool Quilters, the Square 8 square dancers and the Woodcarvers remind us of the groups that were always a part of the activities going on when we were younger and still remain things we love to do.

But it’s not all about nostalgia at the center. It’s also about learning how to use your new Smart Phone (how many of you can remember party lines and telling the operator your number – I can). The center wants to make sure that with all the remembering also comes a recognition of the changes that have occurred. And since everyone is aging – check out the free legal service you can have that will help you as you get older and to a point when decisions for the future need to be made and YOU would like to be the one to make them.

The center has a program director, you know her as Valorie, and if there is something that you would like to have at the center – be it a program, a class, or maybe some other activity, tell her.

Let her know because I’m guessing that if you would be interested in adding something that you like there would be others who would like it too. Our pinochle card playing is a case in point….the other Bobbie, and Ruth and I wanted to play pinochle (it’s best if you have 4) and Kate said start it, and see what happens. We started it and we went from 3 pinochle players and a bridge player (Dawson who decided he might try it) to now 3 tables and growing quickly to 4 (that’s 16 players). And we’ve already had a fun tournament.

I guess that what I have been trying to tell you is that the Shawnee Senior Center is your Senior Center. The staff is there because of you and we all want you to be happy there and we want to make sure we fill your needs sooooo, any suggestions, let us know. And, of course, any nice things you have to say could be mentioned once in a while too. And on that note I will say enough for today!

Cruise Director Kate Joyce will once again be going “toe to toe” with Mike Askins of “Mike in the Morning” fame at 8:35 in the morning on KGFF Radio (FM100.9 or AM1450) on Wednesday. Check it out for yourself and see what you can find out about the center that you didn’t know before.

And remember that at the Shawnee Senior Center “age is just a number” and for a list of things going on you can check out the website at “ShawneeSeniors.org” or the Facebook page at “Shawnee Senior Center.” Don’t have a computer? Drop in at the center and pick up a September calendar and see for yourself the “goings on” at the center.

And, as always, see you at the center!