Thursday, June 8, 2017

Your Senior Center: One-stop shopping for help and fun

 North Shore Senior Center is in Chicago.  Northshore Senior Center, similarly named, is in Bothell, WA.  These two are among the largest senior centers in the nation:  Bothell has grown to 6400 members since it began in 1972.  Like similar centers across the country, these offer one-stop shopping for help, information, services and fun.

If you have an elderly loved one in your life, or you want to be prepared for the future, I'd advise you to check out your local center.

I live close to the Northshore Senior Center.  Four-plus years ago I began attending the monthly Greater Bothell Chamber of Commerce meetings held there. Both groups are not-for-profit and give back to the greater community in many ways.  After our meetings, I was able to see community at work.  Volunteer receptionists, mostly seniors, greeted visitors and answered questions, other volunteers checked in to begin their work and still others occupied a corner with coffee mugs in hand, chatting away.

Volunteerism, it seems, is the hallmark of this center which has branches in Mill Creek, Kenmore and Bothell.  Five hundred-plus volunteers, some seniors and others younger, perform unpaid work that augments the work of the 14 paid staffers, allowing the center to help more people.  "One lady has volunteered for more than 14 years, "says Garreth Jeffrey, Program Manager for the Kenmore branch.  "She's a receptionist, and is a great greeter."

Others give of their time in serving in the dining room, keeping the coffee shop running smoothly and working in the Thrift Shop.  Then there's the Pie Man.  He bakes pies to order once a week.  Many of his friends enjoy their favorites: apple and berry pie.  The price is reasonable.  And all proceeds go to defray the costs of the center.

What about outings?  I checked out the senior center's field trips in the catalogue and was pretty tempted.  Have you heard of the Meowtropolitan Cat Café?  It's Seattle's first Japanese style cat café.  Last year the group enjoyed it so much they're going again!  Each person gets to spend 50 minutes interaction time with the resident kitties.  Another field trip is a progressive lunch, with three stops for appetizer, main dish and dessert.  Back at the center's campuses, you'll find classes that include watercolor painting, quilting, woodworking and journaling.

On a more serious note, Northshore Senior Center has a social worker, and offers workshops on
Medicare, legal and financial issues, caregiving and more.

As I return to Northshore Senior Center from time to time, I discover new items, new classes, new services.  I'd like to hear about the programs at your particular local senior center.  Any thoughts?

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