It has been a tough year for our seniors citizens, who had previously made the Kennett Area Senior Center, 427 S. Walnut Street, Kennett Square, PA, a resource and social setting for themselves throughout the week. With the advantage of Rover Community Transportation, seniors were dropped off at 9am entering a friendly social environment which provided a nutritious lunch and stimulating programming until 3 p.m.
Above all, through these activities the Center provides a chance for seniors to gather together with others, make friends, and feel valued and supported.
This all stopped with COVID, and as a result many vulnerable seniors were isolated in their homes for over one year. During this difficult time, the Center provided virtual programs, one-on-one information and assistance, and a Grab N Go Lunch program. Since closing for in-person programs, Center staff has made over 7,000 phone calls to assess needs and provide support.
Today, things are looking up. Pennsylvania Senior Centers have been given the green light to re-open! It won’t be long before the Center is open and once again Kennett Area Senior Center (KASC) will be an expanded welcoming community space. It also is a time to take a new look at the potential of this center, not only for seniors but for the broader community.
KASC has a great location in the borough with an ample parking lot. It was built in 1976 with the leadership and support of the Kennett Rotary Club and it was obvious it met a great need with a roster of185 active members at that time. The Carol Wendel Room extended the space in 1994.
I recall as a new public health nurse popping in to see Carol Wendel, the Executive Directorand experiencing her excitement about keeping seniors active and included in the broader community. From that time on, I saw and utilized the site as a community center where I saw any resident could visit, bring a presentation, have a space for a community meeting andas a place to encourage youth to visit for intergenerational programs.
It has been over forty years and the nation’s culture continues to evolve and change. As retirement communities started to become popular, many local seniors signed up, which meant their social and resource needs weremet at their established communities and they did not need the senior center services anymore.
One may think that this eliminates the need for a senior center, forgetting about those who cannot afford to move to a retirement community and may be living in isolation.The need for a Senior Center is still a community priority.
With all this, there is no need to keep this population hidden away in their own small enclave. No need to welcome only the elderly to a site that is accessible to all age-groups. The time is now to recognize the opportunity to visit the Center, volunteer and explore new programing that all age-groups would be interested in being a participant.
I recall the past “Senior” Proms that Kennett High School students put on for several years at KASC. The sheer enjoyment across the ages and the lessons learned about each other’s world is still a memory that I hold dear.
In the past year or so, the KASC Board has engaged in strategic planning and the following is the momentum they hope to create:
1) Renovating the building to create a community gathering space that’s warm and welcoming
2) Attracting new volunteers, donors, and younger participants who want to share in creating a vibrant community that specially includes older adults
3) Revitalizing outreach and communications strategies, website and signage, to attract new people and share the myriad possibilities for friendship, fellowship, and learning that the new Center provides.
Membership is open to anyone50 + years old and the fee is $35/year. The offerings of Silver Sneakers Fitness; Classes for Computer Skills; YMCA Access; Kendal and Crossland’s Aquatic Fitness Programs and local business discounts are still amazing membership benefits even for those who do not attend the Center regularly.
Let’s sign-up and enjoy the community experience. Let’s explore ways we can accept the “welcome” that the Executive Director, Stephanie D’Amico announces is the Senior Center’s message to the whole community. Should you wish to join a mailing list to receive re-opening updates or for more information about the Kennett Area Senior Center please call 610-444-4819.