For senior citizens, The Center is a place to stay active. That may come in the form of playing cards, knitting or socializing over lunch. Or perhaps through Zumba fitness classes, studying a foreign language or learning computer skills.
The Center, South Kingstown’s senior center, 25 Saint Dominic Road, Peace Dale, celebrates its 15th anniversary this month. A celebration will be held Tuesday at 11 a.m., with music provided by ROMPS (Retired Old Musicians Playing Swing), and an annual cookout with “celebrity chefs” South Kingstown Town Manager Stephen A. Alfred and Narragansett Town Manager Pamela Nolan.
The Center opened in 2000, paid for by a capital campaign and bonds approved by voters – with a 77 percent approval rate – in 1998. It replaced the Larry Tetreault Senior Center, also on the property, which had more limited offerings, and is still used as an arts and crafts center. The Center allowed the town to meet increased demands for senior services. It continues to expand. In 2006, it opened an Internet café with computer stations and also includes a small kitchen for one-on-one cooking classes.
A poster in the café reads, “Never too old to learn.” Learning can be anything from woodworking, to ceramics and clay, to line dancing.
“Our seniors want to get in on the latest trends,” said Director Karen Turcotte. “A lot of seniors are still thirsty for knowledge.”
One of The Center’s more popular programs is a history class, which hosts about 35 people weekly. Volunteers also teach foreign language classes. Beyond keeping their minds active, many seniors said they come to The Center for companionship.
“I’m here three days a week, and I enjoy the meals, and just being here with other people,” said Karen Hawkins. “I play cards, play on the computers, I knit and chat with people.”
“I live by myself, so I come here to eat a good meal,” said Dennis Hughes, as The Center was wrapping up lunch service Tuesday. “I’ve been coming here for 10 years, and I’ve met a lot of nice people.”
Kate Pearson comes here to volunteer during lunch.
“I enjoy volunteering. It’s a chance for me to meet people. There’s always someone new here,” Pearson said. “It’s uplifting. I think a lot of participants [at The Center] live alone, so this is their chance to get socialization. There’s card parties, dancing and bingo, of course.”
The Center also provides non-recreational services, including bereavement support groups, cancer support groups, access to a nurse from South County Hospital twice a week and assistance with health insurance enrollment. A small fitness room in the center helps promote exercise and healthy living. The Center also has a transportation service, which provides seniors with rides for trips to the grocery store, hair salon and other errands.
“I’ve been coming [to The Center] for five years,” said John Giramma. “To me, one of the best things I ever did was start coming here.”