Center helps seniors stay active, engaged

Joyce Wells said that without becoming a member of the the Warren County Community Services’ 741 Senior Center seven years ago, she would have “simply disappeared.”

“Being here gets me out in the world and makes me come out of my shell,” Wells said. “When I volunteered to teach painting, it was something I couldn’t talk myself out of doing. I was committed. And it’s been so good for me to be able to interact with other seniors and the staff.”

September is National Senior Center Month. This year’s theme is “It happens at My Senior Center: My life, my time, my way.” For the participants in the 741 Senior Center in Turtlecreek Twp., it means celebrating a program that serves as a lifeline.

Wells, a retired commercial artist from Monroe, is both a participant and leader at the 741 Senior Center. She teaches painting and drawing classes, serves on the advisory board and participates in activities like day trips to Reds games.

“Everyday exciting things happen at WCCS’s 741 Senior Center,” said Vel Hux, executive director of WCCS. “It is known not only as the local place for good food, but also for people to come, socialize and have a good time. The camaraderie of getting together is priceless.”

“We are here to enhance the lives of our seniors and to help them stay physically, spiritually and emotionally well and socially engaged,” said Michelle Carpenter, 741 Senior Center Coordinator.

Carpenter said one of the chief causes of depression and even dementia among seniors is being physically isolated.

“Being a senior isn’t this myth of a person sitting in a rocking chair, waiting for something to happen,” Carpenter said. “The senior center may be a group of “older people” but they aren’t old people. Our seniors have the same interests, likes and dreams of young people, plus the life experience to go with it.”

“I don’t think people realize how much the social part means to a senior,” Wells said. “I know a lot of people who the only human contact they get is from the person who delivers their meals on wheels. I try to get others to come here as much as possible.”

The 741 senior center offers a variety of different opportunities for seniors to engage with their peers and with the world at large. Besides Wells’ aforementioned art class, the 741 Senior Center offers computer classes, physical fitness classes, day trips, woodworking, a writer’s workshop and card games. The center offers daily lunches for a suggested donation cost of $3. All courses offered are for anyone interested, whether they are novices or have a life of experience.

The Silver Sneakers program, for example, will cater the fitness program to fit any person’s needs, Carpenter said. Participants may be fully mobile, or use canes, walkers or wheelchairs. The Silver Sneakers even orchestrated a flash mob dance at the Deerfield Towne Center last May, Hux said.

Leon and Sharon Smith of Franklin have been coming to the center for three years. Sharon’s mother was an active participant and convinced her daughter and son-in-law to check it out.

“I love the fellowship here,” Leon Smith said. “It keeps my brain active so I don’t get Alzheimer’s disease. I believe we have to stay active.”

“There’s always something different going on,” Sharon Smith said. “I would recommend this place to anybody.”

The 741 Senior Center is located at 570 N. Ohio 741 across from the Otterbein Senior Lifestyle Center in Turtlecreek Twp. For more information about participating in the programs offered, call Carpenter at (513) 695-2239.

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