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Director prepares for big move: Senior Center opening set for early December

With a proposed Dec. 7 opening date rapidly approaching, Senior Center Director Mary Sanger is alternating between moments of sheer excitement with the frantic busy-ness often associated with any major move.
“The other day, I was thinking it’s almost been eight months since I came on board here,” Sanger said late last week from her small office at the current Senior Center — a center soon to be replaced by the brand-new facility on Main Street. “Time has really flown by.”
Sanger came on board in April of this year at a time when town officials were still hoping for an early summer opening date, yet she said the delays actually helped better prepare her for the task of ushering the town’s seniors into the new center.
“I’m thankful for the chance to be in this center so I know what it’s all about, its history,” Sanger said. “I think if I just started out at the new center, I wouldn’t have understood the energy here.”
One of what she considers her most important goals lies in continuing that vibrant sense of community that has always been a trademark of the current center.
“We’re expanding, but we want to make sure not to lose that feeling,” she said. “We want to continue to cultivate what we have here. We just have more space to do it.”
As part of that process, Sanger has worked hard to ensure local seniors have a say in the new center. “We’ve included the members in the process. This is their center,” she stressed. “This is not a staff center.”
Ideas for how to best use the space were often presented to seniors for discussion, with some suggestions coming from the seniors themselves.
These ideas — and discussions — are what Sanger believes will make the new center stand out.
“I love that it’s not just white walls and a sterile atmosphere, but pops of color,” said Sanger. “And the town has really done a good job in making sure everything is senior friendly.”
Sanger pointed out such highlights as:
• An arts and crafts room dedicated to everything from scrapbooking to quilting
• A billiards room on the lower level, complete with pool tables and game areas
• An exercise room and fitness center, also on the lower level, with more than 20 pieces of senior-friendly exercise equipment
• An on-site wellness clinic to provide information, classes, screenings and more
• A bright, welcoming parlor right off the entrance
• A fireplace for comfort, an elevator for easy access and a large parking area for the comfort of seniors and visitors alike.
“We want to have ambiance that appeals to a broad range,” Sanger added.
Members can use the fitness center, work on a project in the arts and crafts room; listen to a program on a favorite subject or learn a foreign language. It will be up to them, Sanger said.
A touch-screen computer and large Smartboard display in the entry will help members navigate the new center and provide information on when and where certain activities are scheduled.
“We have also added a part-time person to work in wellness,” Sanger added.
Currently, staff are packing up boxes in preparation for the new move. “We’ll take all of the computers and our office supplies,” Sanger said. Everything else will be provided for them at the center, from new furniture to artwork.
The Persimmon Ridge center will close Thursday and Friday, Dec. 3-4, to allow staff and senior volunteers to get everything in place for the Dec. 7 opening.
“We are hopeful the downstairs will be complete, if not on Dec. 7, then shortly after,” Sanger promised.
But even if there is a short delay in some of the downstairs amenities, she said, there will be lots of expanded space to explore on the center’s main floor.
“Our community has waited a long time for this,” Sanger said.