County salutes senior centers in September

BROOKVILLE — The Jefferson County Commissioners recently proclaimed September 2011 as National Senior Community Center Month and Sept. 25-Oct. 1 2011 as Senior Community Center Week.

The commissioners are encouraging all Jefferson County residents to recognize the important role senior community centers play in the lives of older persons in Jefferson County.

“I would like to thank the commissioners and our volunteers for their continuing support of the senior centers,” Mikki Oakes, director of development and community relations for the Jefferson County Area Agency on Aging, said.

Oakes believes that the proclamation is crucial in establishing the county’s senior centers as exciting places to spend time and take part in activities.

“I truly believe that it’s very important, because our social centers provide an intricate part of our aging population’s interest,” she said. “Our centers are changing every day. We’re always open to new, creative ideas. We would love for people to come check out the activities that we currently have.”

Ernie Neel, a Brookville resident, agrees.

“It would be good for the elderly people to come out and see what’s going on and to see what’s available for them to do to help out,” he said. “You might say some good things about (the centers).”

Oakes and the commissioners encourage everyone to visit one of the following four locations next month: The Heritage House in Brookville; the Pine Street Senior Center in Punxsutawney; the Brockwayville Depot in Brockway; and the Foundry in Reynoldsville.

“If they don’t see an activity that they would like to participate in, then all they have to do is talk to our center directors and suggest those activities, and we can work on getting those started,” Oakes said.
The centers provide activities like Zumba, Tai Chi, chair exercises and a healthy steps program, but they are not just limited to people who are very active.

“If you’re not as active, and you want to build yourself up into being more active, then we can be a support in that venture for you,” she said.

The Senior Community Center Week is a national movement. The National Institute for Senior Centers is celebrating throughout September with the theme, “Your Place to Connect.”

According to the proclamation, more than 600 senior community centers provide a variety of activities, programs and services in every county across the Commonwealth, and these centers are a visible symbol of Pennsylvania’s ongoing support for the independence and integration of older persons in their communities.

These centers provide opportunities for seniors to stay active and healthy, continue learning, share experiences, get nutritious meals and stay connected with friends and community members, the proclamation reads.

Furthermore, more than 79,000 eligible people eat nutritious meals at these centers and more than four million meals are served at these centers annually, keeping older Pennsylvanians healthy and socially involved. These centers continue to meet the challenges of the changing face of aging, particularly with the baby boomer generation.

According to Oakes, JCAAA has a number of activities planned for next month, including a “Bring Your Grandchildren With You” day Sept. 12, and a “How to Stay Safe in Your Own Home” day Sept. 21.

In addition, each day of the month, people will be featured on the agency’s Web site with personal stories about how the social centers have been an inspiration in their lives.

“As far as other counties or other states, I don’t know how they’re taking this mission on,” Oakes said. “But as far as Jefferson County, we’re taking it very seriously and trying to open a lot of people’s eyes to how the centers operate and the wonderful programs that we offer. Additionally, none of our programs are income based. Everyone is welcome.”