Rock ‘n’ roll at the center
Winchester — The good times were rolling Thursday at the Winchester Active Living Center last week.
The center held a 1950s-themed party in honor of Senior Center Month. Director Ebbie Williams set the scene with special decorations, a hula hoop contest and singing and dancing courtesy of Elvis (karaoke provided by Phil “Skip” Hunter).
“I am hoping this will draw in people so they can see how much fun we have,” Williams said. “It is not boring, and they won’t be sitting around the house.”
The party was part of the center’s regular hours and schedule, which goes from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday at the center, 1001 E. Cork St. in Jim Barnett Park.
Williams wanted to give members a special treat to recognize the month. She was trying to come up with something different to attract new people and entertain regulars, and a dance party seemed to fit.
Hunter played or sang a variety of rock ‘n’ roll favorites, including “That’s Alright,” “Mustang Sally” and “Devil With a Blue Dress On.”
“I probably have the most dancing group there is” out of the Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging’s seven regional active living centers, Williams said. Many of her members love dancing and it is great for their health, so she tries to give them opportunities to do it regularly, if not daily.
Yvonne Woody of Winchester loves dancing, so she makes a point to be at the center when she knows there will be some going on. She has arthritis in one knee and has trouble walking, but “praise the Lord I can still dance,” she said.
The best part of the event for her was the music courtesy of Hunter because she thought it was wonderful that he dressed as Elvis.
“I saw Elvis three times in Richmond, and he was so fabulous,” she said. “Elvis has a special place with me.”
She heard about the ’50s theme and searched her clothes for something to wear. She was pleased when she found a bright square dancing skirt “so I would be in style.”
A few of the participants gave nods to the era with a scarf rather than the full ’50s look.
Williams really got into the spirit of the event with a red poodle skirt, scarf, sweater, bobby socks and a ponytail. She also decorated the room with old records, stars and an inflatable jukebox.
Susie Downing, 86, of Winchester, forgot all about the theme day, so she got a nice surprise when she walked in the center. When a song came on that had a good rhythm, she got up and joined — even the chicken dance.
“I don’t like that one, but I love to get in the group and dance,” said Downing, who has attended the center for years.
The party was fun, but each day at the center provides a structure and an opportunity to make new friends, said Stanley Fenner, 80, of Winchester. He has lived in Winchester more than three years and has been coming to the center two of those.
“It is a wonderful place to spend your time and enjoy friendships,” he said.
Ella Jackson, 64, of Winchester, brought three of her friends to the party, one of whom, Mildred Gales, said she is thinking about joining. She got up and danced a few times and enjoyed watching the hula hoop contest.
Mostly, she just loves keeping busy, she said.
“Without (the center), I would probably just be sitting at home,” she said.
The SAAA Aging Active Living Centers are open to anyone 60 years of age and older. The Center Director provides an eligibility assessment at enrollment. Each Active Living Center offers a wide variety of activities, trips, socialization, current events, and fellowship. Noontime meals are available on days of operation. Nutrition and health programs and screenings are presented on a regular basis.
Transportation is available at most locations for those unable to drive.
When people reach the age of many of the members, depression can be a problem, Williams said. It helps knowing there is someone they can come several days a week to dance, play cards or bingo, do puzzles or just talk to people their own age.
“A lot of seniors don’t even realize we are here,” she said. “By word of mouth is how it gets passed around.”
A hymn sing will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Friday at Macedonia United Methodist Church, Front Royal Pike (U.S. 522), south of Winchester, to benefit the SAAA’s Meals on Wheels. Macedonia’s Bluegrass Band, and combined Praise and Revival! bands will play. A freewill offering will be taken. Call Darlene Miller at 540-868-1707.
The Winchester Active Living Center meets from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday at the center, 1001 E. Cork St., Jim Barnett Park. For more information, call 540-662-5433.
— Contact Laura McFarland at firstname.lastname@example.org