The Person County Senior Center staff believes “you’re never too old to play,” and works hard to make sure Personians over age 50 have fun things to do year-round. Throughout the year, Director Maynell Harper and her staff offer opportunities for seniors and others to get involved, have fun, get fit, continue learning, and socialize. Some offerings are open to those younger than 50 as well.
The spacious, modern Senior Center facility, located on Semora Road in Roxboro, offers everything from yoga and belly dancing, to help with Medicare enrollment and caregiver support, to group exercise classes and a coffee shop, to hot meals and group trips.
Harper said she is always open to suggestions for new programming that will benefit older adults in the county. There is already an abundance of activities, classes and resources available, however. The offerings include a fully equipped fitness center, a computer lab, meeting spaces, a library, billiard tables, Bingo, Bridge and Mah Jong groups, painting classes, table tennis, line dancing, tai chi, Bible study, monthly sing-alongs, cornhole, and more. This winter, cornhole will be played inside the center. With a chuckle, Harper said she and her staff are calling it “Climate Controlled Cornhole.”
Those who visit the Senior Center on any given weekday will encounter people working out in group exercise classes or playing Bridge, Rook, horseshoes, billiards, board games or Dominoes. On certain days, groups practice restorative yoga or tai chi. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, people groove to Zumba. Other days find patrons line dancing or belly dancing.
Line dancing is offered three times a week. Harper said it is a great way to exercise both the body and mind, because one has to remember a series of steps for each dance. Line dancing, crafts, and certain other classes are offered in the evenings for seniors who are still working but want to participate in those activities.
Onsite lunches are offered at the Senior Center. A conference room is available for meetings. A Bible study group meets on Wednesday mornings. The Senior Center also offers a fully stocked library, painting classes, table tennis, informative workshops, trips, and Center Perk, an onsite coffee shop. The coffee shop is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 8 to 11 a.m. Coffee is available at $1.50 for a 16-ounce cup. Individually wrapped snacks and magazines are also offered at Center Perk.
In the Senior Center’s computer lab, computer basics classes are taught by a former Piedmont Community College instructor now serving as a vocational rehabilitation intern.
A six-week quilting class is being offered this winter as well. Harper said most of the instructors who offer classes at the center are “senior experts who teach for the sheer joy of doing it, and at no charge.” The quilting class will be taught by an experienced quilter. This is one of the classes, Harper said, being offered as a means of adding more choices to get out and get involved when the weather forces people inside.
This winter, once-monthly Salsa lessons are available, and there is also a Senior Center cheerleaders’ squad. Harper said the center took 65 people to Palace Pointe to see the movie Poms, which is about a group of seniors living in a retirement community who decide to form a cheerleading squad. After the movie, she said, the idea “morphed into” the Senior Center’s own cheer squad.
In January, Senior Games applications will be accepted. The games are played from March through May. Harper said many types of activities are offered in the Senior Games, including team, partner and individual competitions. Silver Arts gives seniors a way to compete in arts and crafts, creative writing and performance. Harper said Person County is always well represented at the Senior Games, and one Personian won a bronze medal in the last state competition.
Use of the Senior Center’s many offerings, including the gym and exercise equipment, is free for Person County residents aged 60 and up. Residents who are 50 to 59 or disabled pay a $15 monthly fee. Residents of neighboring counties who are 60 and older may use the fitness center for $20 a month. Trained staff are on site to ensure those using the exercise equipment do it properly in order to avoid injury. Patrons may also bring their own personal trainer to the center, with prior approval. Showers are available.
And, according to Harper, one is never too old to get fit. She said the fitness center has between 10 and 15 patrons who are between the ages of 90 and 98 who “work out every day.”
Group exercise classes are offered year-round, as well as yoga classes, which are free. Those who wish to do so may make a donation. The instructor also offers nutrition classes to complement the yoga instruction.
Many Senior Center offerings are available to people outside of Person County. Harper said, “Most activities are available to out-of-county residents and of course the gym is available for out-of-county residents who are 60 years or older for $20 per month. We do always give priority to Person County seniors age 60 and up for trips” and other programming, but there is usually room for others, she said. The only programs not available to non-Person County residents are Block grant services such as home delivered meals, aides, on site lunch, and transportation.
Volunteers may get involved in the Meals on Wheels program for homebound seniors administered by the Senior Center. Volunteers are always needed for this vital program, said Harper. The Senior Center is the only entity in Person County that offers Meals on Wheels. Six routes are run by around 50 people. Three full-time staff members and three part-time staff also work to make sure those who need a meal and a visit are served.
The Senior Center offers a durable medical loan program; caregiver support groups, a caregiver respite program and in-home aides as well. These programs allow many seniors to continue living in their homes, said Harper, instead of going to long-term care facilities.
“We try to keep seniors at home, engaged and involved in the community” for as long as possible, Harper added. The center is a Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) certified site, and offers Medicare counseling by appointment.
The Person County Senior Center hours of operation are Monday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Lunch is served at 11:30 a.m. by reservation only. It is located at 87 Semora Road, Roxboro, NC 27573. Maynell Harper and her staff may be reached by phone at (336) 599-7484.
Phyliss Boatwright is a journalist who for years reported Person County news in The Courier-Times. She has published two books and several short stories. Her book review show, Turn the Page, can be heard on WKRX, 96.7. For the past seven years, she has taught journalism and served as public information officer at Roxboro Community School. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.