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Washington County's first senior center celebrates grand opening

October 22, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

HAGERSTOWN -- More than 60 people turned out Tuesday for the grand opening of Washington County's first senior center.

While the center technically has been open since Sept. 2, the Washington County Commission on Aging held the grand opening event and luncheon to show the Washington County Commissioners what is happening at the center.

The commissioners agreed in April to spend $259,180 to fund the senior center's lease at Girls Inc. for 10 months.

"We're really happy so far," said Susan MacDonald, executive director of the Commission on Aging.

The center hosts several classes every day, including group exercise, computer instruction and foreign language, as well as other events such as dancing and card games.

Many of the people who attended Tuesday's grand opening said they are happy with the services the center is providing.

Carol Moser, 69, of Funkstown, said she is interested in the senior center's exercise classes, which are available almost every day that the center is open, as well as the companionship that the center provides.

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"It's nice," Moser said. "It's nice to have somewhere to go during the day. Staying home all day can be depressing."

Lucille Fitzwater, 71, of Boonsboro, said she recently attended a tai chi class at the senior center.

"It was great," Fitzwater said. "I came here for the diabetes class and ended up taking the tai chi."

Sylvia Rodgers, 69, a fitness instructor from Smithsburg, said staying physically active is a primary concern for seniors.

MacDonald agreed.

"Everyone wants to stay physically well so they can stay independent," MacDonald said.

Vicky Smith, 59, of Hagerstown, said her doctor told her she needed to exercise, so she came to the senior center in early September.

"My daughter used to use the (Girls Inc. club)," Smith said. "I'm glad to see it being used every day."

Commissioner James F. Kercheval said the center's opening is good for the county, which until recently had been the only county in Maryland without a senior center.

"That's not something that really shows well for the county," Kercheval said.

Commissioner Kristin B. Aleshire said he was happy that the temporary center is offering services that didn't previously exist, but said the temporary center, which shares space with Girls Inc., is not enough to serve the senior population.

MacDonald said the Commission on Aging is looking for a permanent senior center location, but has said that the process could take several years.

For a calendar of events at the senior center, visit the Washington County Commission on Aging's Web site at www.wccoaging.org and click on "Senior Center."

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