Senior Center offering even more services in its temporary quarters

Nancy Thrasher (second from right), of Huntington, and Shirley Turner (right), of Andrews, walk around the outside of the gym at Central Christian Church as a group of line dancers go through their paces in the center court on Monday, Nov. 9. The indoor facility has provided more room to Seniors since the Huntington County Council on Aging moved into offices within the church last month.
Nancy Thrasher (second from right), of Huntington, and Shirley Turner (right), of Andrews, walk around the outside of the gym at Central Christian Church as a group of line dancers go through their paces in the center court on Monday, Nov. 9. The indoor facility has provided more room to Seniors since the Huntington County Council on Aging moved into offices within the church last month. Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Nov. 12, 2015.

The Huntington County Senior Center is alive and well, and offering even more activities for older folks in its new digs at Central Christian Church, located at 500 MacGahan St., Huntington.

The Huntington County Council on Aging moved into offices at the church the week of Sept. 21, says Director Holly Saunders, while it awaits planned renovations to the new Senior Center building on West Park Drive.

“It’s a good fit. These people are so nice to us,” she said, referring to the staff at Central Christian Church. “It’s a lovely building. It’s huge – I can’t believe how big it is.”

Huntington Area Transportation – or HAT – is based in one of three rooms rented out to the HCCOA. A second room houses the receptionist and clerk area and the third office is for Saunders and the assistant director.

“They’re classrooms, but we’ve transformed them into offices,” she adds.

Saunders anticipates renting space at Central Christian Church for about two years before the center can move into its permanent home at 1450 W. Park Drive.

In the meantime, the church’s gymnasium, which is in use as the activity room, has attracted more Seniors to come out and take advantage of the services the HCCOA offers.

“We do have another walking class in the morning that we didn’t have before, at 8 a.m. every morning,” Saunders says. “
Shirley Turner, of Andrews, gets in her exercise in the gym. She is thrilled with the new location.

“I love it,” she says. “It’s bigger, we’ve got more room, and we’ve got a place that we can walk around. If you don’t want to dance you can walk around and it doesn’t bother anybody.”

A recent Senior dinner in the gym allowed more people to be served, with space to move around between tables – a luxury that often caused problems at the former Senior Center in the old Courthouse Annex downtown.

The HCCOA is also expanding its homemaker services, with the hiring of a second employee to provide homemaker services to area Seniors.

“We’re slowly trying to expand this service because it’s a great service. It fits our mission statement more than anything,” Saunders says. “We try to help people remain independent and maintain their dignity within their own homes. The homemakers go into the homes and do the light housework that some of them can’t do anymore.”

The homemaker service is charged to Seniors according to their income and is subsidized in part by United Way funding, Saunders adds.

Rev. Chris Hayden, pastor of Central Christian Church, says the addition of the Senior Center has worked out well, with benefits to the church as well as to the HCCOA.

“They’re able to run their programs and do that things that they need, and we’re able to do the same for ours, and we’re able to help one another.

Nothing has really gotten in the way at all,” he says. “We’ve both been very mutually submissive to each other. It’s been really good.”

Hayden says one of the biggest benefits to having Senior center there is in allowing Central Christian Church to reach out to the community.

“We’ve successfully been able to join with another partner who is helping the community,” he says. “It gives us a chance, also, to meet some others in our community we may never have gotten a chance to meet, which is good. Some may want to take advantage of other things that the church does. We have people in the church that may want to take advantage – and I think some of them do – take advantage of the programs that the Council on Aging provides. So it’s sort of been a back-and-forth; mutually, we’re able to take advantage of each other’s stuff, and that’s been a benefit to us both internally as well as externally.”

The HCCOA is still raising funding to start work at the West Park Drive building. An auction will be held on Monday, Nov. 23, beginning at 4:30 p.m. Many of the items came from surplus at the former Senior Center location, but other items have been donated. Saunders says donations for the auction are appreciated. Food will also be available for purchase at the auction.

The Council on Aging’s phone number is still the same during the transition at 359-4410. However, Saunders has a new email address, hsaunders@huntingtoncountycoa.org.