By KATHLEEN GEST
---- — A new network is taking senior services and programming into outlying areas — and the first location is already rocking.
Seniors' Rock, featuring activities for seniors in the Kingsley area, launched Dec. 1.
It's held at The Rock in Kingsley, 115 E. Blair St. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays. An open house is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 5, with lunch from Subway, provided by Comfort Keepers. There will be demonstrations and information about the programs available.
The Countywide Senior Center Network aims to get more people ages 60 and older involved in activities by taking the activities closer to their homes.
So far, the network has been using grant money from the Grand Traverse County Commission on Aging. Now a millage passed in November will support the network.
"We're excited about bringing senior center programs to Kingsley," said Lori Wells, director of the Traverse City Senior Center, which is overseeing the new network. "They have a great group of seniors, who meet at the local church monthly, so there is a base already in place to work with.
"We've also had great support from the local townships and village, as well as the library. So, finding a facility where we could implement our programs wouldn't have been a problem. After surveying all of our options, we discovered The Rock and felt like we'd found our match. They have everything we need to get this south-county senior center going."
Diane Walton, manager and one of the founders of The Rock, said organizers quickly realized The Rock, which is mainly a youth center, would be great for seniors.
"There's no reason why this building has to sit empty during the day, if someone else wants to use it, especially contributing to something that will help people," she said. "A lot of our seniors are getting older and can't drive into Traverse City or the weather gets bad in the wintertime, making it difficult for them — so why not have a senior center here — at The Rock."
Socializing is an important aspect of a senior meeting place like The Rock. A study that measured social connection and lifespan found the stronger your links with others, the longer you are likely to live. By participating in a network center, social isolation isn't likely to occur. Whether it's a recreational or educational setting, there are plenty of opportunities at Seniors' Rock to socialize and to grow.
"The Rock is a good place for us to use, because it has all we need in just one building," said George McBath, outreach coordinator. "The space is there — a large activities area is included, a beautiful lounge with a fireplace is there, a computer lab is already set up, a separate electronic room with Wii and X-box activities is in place, three pool tables, two pingpong tables and foosball for entertainment are there, a snack shack is available — all in the area where the big fire trucks use to sit."
There also is a separate meeting room for various classes, workshops, lectures and discussions.
Most of the organized programs slated for Seniors' Rock will start after the first of the year. This month, Wednesdays will be a drop-in time to see what is going on, to scout out activities and programs the senior is particularly interested in, and just to get acquainted.
Already in the planning stage for January is an exercise or dance class in the morning, then lunch, followed by a discussion group, cards or games for the afternoon and computer classes in the lab every other Wednesday.
An annual health-screening day is being considered for later in the year.
So, do something good for yourself — connect with, participate in and enjoy Seniors' Rock — your south-county senior network center.
For information, please contact the Countywide Senior Center Network at the Traverse City Senior Center at 922-4911, or e-mail email@example.com.
Kathleen Bellaw Gest is a local freelance writer. For more about the Traverse City Senior Center, go to www.tcseniorcenter.com.