WE WON!! WE HAVE OUR COMMUNITY CENTER!!!
For several years, the Senior Citizens in my community have been fighting to have a community center built. Finally we have a community center where community activities can take place. Hopefully the elderly will no longer feel like they must lock themselves in their homes or leave the community to participate in activities that will enhance their quality of life. Unfortunately, my parents did not live to enjoy this center. If some people have their way, our community seniors may not be able to enjoy this center either.
Whenever a community center is erected, the initial thought is “another place for our youth and young adults to spend time (so that we, the powers that be, can receive more money from the Board of Education for babysitting kids in one of many after school programs already in existence).” The first half of the morning will be devoted to minimally interesting programs created without the input of the elder participants. Breakfast is not served but if more that 20 seniors register, Meals on Wheels will provide lunch for a small fee. Once 2:00 p.m. arrives THE ACTION BEGINS!! Games are put out along with snacks and every other wonderful goody imaginable to occupy young minds. Computer labs are ready to received the crew who will quickly speed through their homework and eagerly begin the marathon of endless computer games that will hold them until it is time to go home.
There are many community centers throughout my city where youth and young adults have many choices (too many choices). Many adults and children take these places for granted. However, those in charge rarely ever ask the participants what activities they want to participate in . Many people rent the centers out for their events but does ANY of that money come back into the center that was rented? I strongly feel that seniors/elders have been cast by the wayside. Too many are raising grandchildren or struggling with their health to even think about doing something fun or enjoyable for themselves. On the other hand, some seniors/elders are in denial about where they are chronologically in life. The residents asked for a center and now 10 YEARS LATER we finally have one. One of the problems is that once a victory occurs, things go back to business as usual. They may attend for a while and then stop coming. (This is the issue with the library that we have in the community. We fought to get one. The community used it for a while then it became the hang out for the children to use the computers for games. The children also use it when the lifeguards take a break at the pool. Justification for the library is based on circulation (checked out books). The inventory is so pitiful, many residents go to branches outside of the community. Very few say anything. I am concerned that the same thing might happen to the community center.
ASK, PROVIDE, SUPPORT! Senior centers are AWESOME if you have the right programs in place. I wish that those in charge would be just as excited about providing wonderfully stimulating activities for our seniors along with snacks. I would love to see this community center filled to the brim with Seniors who want to do various things. I want to see the input from the residents taken down and implemented. I want to see our community seniors living their lives to the fullest by enjoying the fruits of their labors. I want my community seniors to LIVE and not simply exist. However it is up to them to utilize what they have fought for to the fullest. I just don’t think that they will.
~ Malinda G.