Just a few weeks ago — beginning July 1 — Shawnee's senior center, at 401 N. Bell, underwent some changes in operation, namely the City of Shawnee enveloped the program under its umbrella.

Just a few weeks ago — beginning July 1 — Shawnee's senior center, at 401 N. Bell, underwent some changes in operation, namely the City of Shawnee enveloped the program under its umbrella.

As such, new leadership is settling into the role overseeing the center.

Serving as Recreation Facility Supervisor, Amy Riggins now heads operation of the senior center, the city's municipal auditorium and the Community Center, at 804 S. Park. These are all under the wing of the City of Shawnee Parks and Recreation Department.

Riggins said though goals for the center are certainly taking shape, their implementation will be cautious and calculated.

The main goals for the next year are simply to maintain and enhance what already is being offered.

“Expansion will be based on need and demand,” she said.

Right now Riggins said her focus is shore up current needs, like securing more seating and equipment, as well as cleaning and making improvements to the facility. Similar goals are being planned for the Community Center.

Shawnee Recreation Manager Kerri Foster said the city wants to be sure to not hurt existing programs as they seek input from area seniors and build a plan for the future.

“We do not want to over extend ourselves,” Foster said. “What's important is building from a strong and solid foundation.”

Currently there are at least a dozen activities and programs to choose from each week at the center, including things like fitness programs, various card games, gospel singing, country music and dancing, as well as hobbies like quilting and crochet. The center also has a recreation room available for visiting, playing pool or dominos, etc.

Eventually there may be expanded offerings.

Riggins said she has a couple activities in the works that she hopes to add soon.

“There are so many possibilities,” Riggins said.

The center's operation, though, is just part of the picture for the city.

Foster's goal as parks manager is ultimately to serve all of the community with more activities and programs.

For more information about the Senior Center, call (405) 878-1528.

Project H.E.A.R.T.

Years ago Project H.E.A.R.T., a local nutrition program, used to serve lunch to area seniors at the center downtown. In June 2016, however, the program moved across town to the Community Center — where they have offered those services ever since.

Now the city has taken over operation, seniors are being directed back to the offerings of Project H.E.A.R.T. at the Park site.

There are a few adjustments to be made, as that program is not identical to what seniors had grown accustomed to.

Project H.E.A.R.T. serves only seniors 60 and older — an age requirement that was set much lower (50-plus) for seniors at the downtown location.

Also, a seat for lunch must be reserved ahead, something that did not used to be required daily.

Project H.E.A.R.T., at 830 W. Ford, can be reached at (405) 214-1972.

Reportedly, transportation is still being worked out.

“There is transportation happening,” Foster said, “but we do want it to be smoother.”

On the wish list is a way — perhaps a bus— to shuttle seniors back and forth, she said.

Help

Right now Riggins is running the show on her own.

“It's been a lot of fun,” she said. “I've met a lot of new people.”

She said she is in the process of hiring part-time staff.

Also, Foster said a handful of senior volunteers have been extremely helpful during the transition.

“We encourage more seniors to take a part in helping out the center,” she said. “We would love their input and feedback.”

Foster said she is thankful for the many organizations in the area that have offered to help.

“We are exploring partnerships,” she said. “The support is very much appreciated.”

About Riggins

Most recently, Riggins was the Senior Assistant Director of Fitness, Wellness and Special Events for Centers, LLC, at Jacksonville State University until March this year.

According to her LinkedIn profile, between 2007 and 2014 she was director at Oklahoma Baptist University's (OBU) Recreation and Wellness Center.

Riggins has a Master of Science in Health, Physical Education and Recreation from The University of Oklahoma (OU). She earned her bachelor's degree at OBU in the same areas of focus.

She is a certified Exercise Physiologist, issued from the American College of Sports Medicine, as well as an ACE Fitness certified health coach and fitness instructor.

Watch for updates.