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Published: Thursday, 2/17/2005

Maumee: Larger center for seniors ready

BY RACHEL ZINN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Jim McClellan is a volunteer who gives help in the new dining area of the Maumee Senior Center on Detroit Avenue. Jim McClellan is a volunteer who gives help in the new dining area of the Maumee Senior Center on Detroit Avenue.
SIMMONS / BLADE Enlarge

With a new look and nearly twice the amount of space, the Maumee Senior Center restarted its daily lunch program last week in a renovated area after months of construction.

"We've been in disarray since October, so it's like going back to school after summer break," said Christal Hughes, executive director of the center. "We're getting the seniors used to coming back for activities."

Maumee spent $1.12 million to renovate the senior center, which offers a nutritional lunch every weekday and a variety of other activities for area residents.

The project added 7,323 square feet of space to the center, bringing its total area up to 16,852 square feet, officials said. The addition includes two activity rooms and three administrative offices.

"We're real proud of the senior center. The addition will give us the opportunity to do more programs," volunteer Jim McClellan said. "I'm still not used to getting around because it's so much larger."

Other renovations include installation of an elevator to take visitors to the lower level, a new faade, and updated kitchen equipment.

The renovations took longer than expected and cost about $105,000 more than the original estimate because workers found asbestos in the building and discovered problems with the kitchen ventilation system. Everything is now complete except for the kitchen, which is scheduled to be finished next month.

"We're trying to re-evaluate how we're going to utilize the building," said Andrea Gernheuser, program coordinator for the senior center.

The center has some plans for using its additional space. Staff members said they hope to add more classes for seniors, such as a quilting class, and schedule more speakers at the center who will discuss topics like health and finance.

The new rooms will allow more opportunities to rent out space and offer classes to community members of all ages.

"That will allow us to get some revenue to sustain the services for our seniors," Ms. Hughes said.

The senior center is expecting to spend about $235,000 this year on building costs, programs, and transporting seniors to activities. The center is funded by the Area Office on Aging, Maumee, grants from area agencies, and private donations.

In recent months, the senior center has been pushing its Booster Club memberships as a way for area residents to support the center. The memberships cost $15 per year and give members a few perks, such as a free birthday lunch at the center and a free monthly senior center newsletter. The center has more than 600 members.

The changes at the senior center have been a big adjustment for some regular visitors. Some seniors say they like the addition, but the center did not need so much more space.

Ms. Hughes said that from a management perspective, having more space was a critical need.

"For safety reasons and liability, we needed to adjust," she said. "The new center is wonderful, but it's going to take some getting used to."



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