Senior Center marks fifth anniversary

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 7/9/96.

In 1989, the idea of opening a senior center in Paynesville was a dream. Next week marks the fifth anniversary of the Paynesville Area Senior Center.

A small group met to discuss the possibility of a senior center. Many people in the area did not have any idea what a senior center was. The answer to that question became a guide for the original five who worked with the city building committee in 1989.

On Feb. 20, 1990, the Paynesville Senior Citizens Club met and took a survey concerning participation and volunteering at the proposed center.

The city of Paynesville was unable to build the senior center because of their many other needs and limited bonding capacity. The city did offer to furnish a site for the center of one square block located within the city limits. This was the challenge facing the seniors.

Some older residents felt the city of Paynesville should build the center for their use. Others felt there was a need, but it could not be built or operated without tax support. The opposition was overcome through education and by soliciting contributions from people over 55 only. When it was shown that seniors themselves were willing to support the project by contributing and volunteering their services, the younger generation and businesses gave their support.

Throughout the summer of 1990, area senior citizens held fund raisers to raise funds for their goal. Fifty-four percent of the $150,000 goal was reached by early July. Over 800 hours of volunteer work was done by senior men and women during the fund raising period.

The task force had set a goal of $100,000 before they would break ground for the new center. By July 31 that goal had been reached. The date of Aug. 21 was set for the ground breaking. By Oct. 18 bulldozers began moving dirt for the construction of a senior citizen building.

On March 10, 1991, an auction and open house was held at the new senior center. The first meal to be served at the senior center was on Tuesday, July 16, 1991. A crowd of 184 attended the first day.

"I've said it before and I must say it again, the response we received from all people is absolutely incredible," Paul Embretson, task force member, said.

"I feel the center has been well accepted by the community," Jim McCalmant, director, said. "The center averages about 35 people daily for various activities."

Volunteer labor at the center averages 400 hours a month and that doesn't include the nutrition program.

Senior citizens help with greeting card recycling, eye glass recycling, make quilts, besides their other activities.

Activities held at the senior center include: weekly aerobic classes for seniors, cribbage classes and tournaments, card-a-rama every winter, ecumenical Bible study, 55 Plus defensive driving classes, legislative breakfast, Democratic caucus, FareSHARE sign-up and distribution, ongoing pool tournaments, daily dart games, rummage sales, crafts, movies, horseshoes, and more.

Seminars held at the center include living wills, long-term care, sleep well-feel well, estate planning, national women's history, and Medica senior care.

Members of the Paynesville Area Senior Center participate in the Town and Country Days Parade, Christmas Parade, Farm and Home Show, and Special Olympics.

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