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Posted on: December 16, 2013

Westmoreland Senior Center Task Force Wants to Better Serve Younger Seniors

(Greensburg, PA)—Neighborhood senior centers aren’t what they used to be—that’s the message Area Agency on Aging staff and members of the advisory boards of the county’s 13 senior centers want those 60 and over to know. To that end, a Senior Center Task Force has been meeting to identify the types of programs that will draw in younger seniors to the centers located throughout Westmoreland County. They want county residents of all ages to see the centers as places where the community can come together to share a meal, attend a wellness program, or enjoy some of the local culture.
Chaired by Irma Hutchinson of the Laurel Valley Senior Center, Inc., the group meets monthly. By February, the Task Force will map out a strategy to enhance sharing of ideas and program publicity among the centers, which are operated by non-profits. They hope this will encourage participants who usually attend programs in their local center to take advantage of offerings at other nearby ones. For instance, Valley Senior Center schedules overnight bus trips to popular locations, such as their recent November 11 trip to Biltmore House in Asheville, NC. With enhanced communication among center staff, Task Force members plan to make it easier for those from other areas of the County to access the trips.
At last Tuesday’s meeting, committee members discussed several initiatives they hope will appeal to those who don’t traditionally see themselves as consumers of senior centers. While line dancing is the most popular activity at the spacious New Kensington Senior Center, yoga has proven popular in East Vandergrift, and Zumba Gold draws consistently strong participation at the smaller Avonmore center. The Task Force is looking at how established programs working in one location can be brought to other centers. And, new programs such as a writers’ guild are on the horizon, along with partnerships with a civic theater group to present productions at one of the centers that will appeal to all ages.
Also at this month’s meeting, attendees learned about Project SEED (Something to Eat Every Day), hosted by the New Kensington center. This program provides local elementary students who qualify for free or reduced lunches with nutritious non-perishable foods for the weekend. Working with volunteers from Valley High School’s JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps), and businesses such as ALCOA, chair Joanne Cecchi has spearheaded the kind of community collaboration Task Force members envision happening at other locations as well.
For more information Westmoreland County Area Agency on Aging’s senior centers and other programs, log on to http://www.co.westmoreland.pa.us and click on Human Services.

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