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Seniors center provides more than good meals

August 25, 1997

By JENNYLYNN BROWN

Staff Writer

KEEDYSVILLE - Card-playing, dining, craft-making and bowling seniors at the Southeastern Nutrition Site say that the best therapy for getting older is getting out of the house.

Since 1987, numerous retirees have made the upper level of the Little Antietam Community Center their home away from home.

Managers of the site hope its 10th anniversary celebration on Sept. 24 will be the beginning of a new chapter in participant activity.

In its first year, about 35 people dropped by center at 40 Mount Vernon Drive each day, but now the day's total wavers around 15.

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"With card players, it's 22," said Site Manager Martha Drennen, 61.

"It's very frustrating for us who have been here for so many years ... ," said Seniors Advisory Council President Shirley Hogan, 76.

Part of the problem is the nutrition site's name is deceiving - healthy meals are only a part of the site's focus, Drennen explained.

Seniors try darts, crafts, quilting, volleyball - and watch videos. Line-dancing lessons start Sept. 3, Drennen said.

"We would like to see the senior center really flourish," said Mary Alice Schaeffer, 51, secretary for Southeastern Washington County Health and Community Services Corp., the non-profit company that owns the building.

Schaeffer also manages Beginnings day care in the center's lower level.

Virginia Morgan, 67, of North Main Street in Boonsboro, found the center early this spring.

"We would have been here a long time ago if we would have known. I don't think enough people know about this. It's a fun day out for us because we're all retired." said Morgan, one of the regulars playing progressive 500 card game.

Craft enthusiast Robert "Bob" Hogan, 79, of Trego, Md., said he and his wife, Shirley, spend winters in Florida and return with new craft ideas. They've been coming two or three times a week for 10 years.

"When things start looking brown in the refrigerator, you can come in here and have a different meal. Keep active both mentally and physically, and you're way ahead of the game," he said.

Bowler Annalee Burker, 71, waited for her turn to score a strike in the center's homemade bowling alley.

"It's exercise. Keeps us from getting too old," chuckled Burker, of General Gordon Circle in Sharpsburg.

Ten-year participant Dorothy Ellis, 77, said she continues to get support from her friends at the center.

"My husband and I started coming here together. When he passed away in 1990, I don't know what I'd have done without the center," said Ellis, of Coffman Farms Road in Keedysville.

Burker agreed. "It's good for us widow ladies."

"I live alone - I come for the company," said bowling scorekeeper Antonio A. Amapo, 81, of Potomac Street in Boonsboro.

Joseph "Joe" Hannah, president of the non-profit organization, said they're making plans to add larger road signs to direct people to the center.

"We'd also like to rent the multi-purpose room to the community. It isn't used as much as it should be," said Hannah, 80.

The community center also houses:

* A Washington County Health Department clinic on the second Thursday each month. Services include child immunizations, blood and nutritional assessments, cancer screenings, HIV and pregnancy testing.

On Tuesday, from 4:30 to 7 p.m., children from birth to age 12 will be given free vaccinations there.

* Sylvia Burtner, psychotherapist specializing in grief, loss and divorce counseling.

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