By David Fenker
NORTH MANCHESTER -- The Garber-Simmons Senior Center is under new leadership.
The center recently hired Sandy Rowe as its director, following the retirement of Melinda Sweeten late last year.
Rowe began working in early January, and says she has many ideas for programs for the seniors.
“For now, I’m just getting my feet wet,” she said.
“My hope is to have exciting programs for the seniors to do; to do things that they are interested in and to figure out ways to be involved with other United Fund agencies. I would love to see more seniors come… We have activities almost every day. A couple times a month we go out to eat somewhere, but that’s not all that we’re about.”
One program in the planning stage is art classes for seniors.
“Painting classes are in the works, coming up within the next few months. We will establish two two-hour painting classes for the seniors,” Rowe said.
The classes will most like be taught by a student from Manchester University, but the details have not yet been decided. Additional programs are also being considered.
“I have more things planned, but I haven’t discussed it with the seniors yet… a lot of ideas of things to do, but they just haven’t been discussed,” she said.
Rowe previously worked with The Arc of Wabash County, an organization which serves adults with disabilities.
“I really enjoyed that. I was a supervisor at a program for four years, and did specialized training and assessments. We really focused on community integration. It was a successful program, and still is,” she said.
“I love working with people… I love serving people. That’s how I look at the job, as serving people.”
Rowe heard about the opening at the Garber-Simmons Senior Center by word of mouth, and successfully applied. Since taking the position, she has been working with the existing set of programs while also starting on new ones.
“One of the things that we’ve done so far is to implement the Wii games, because it’s really good exercise and it’s fun. We really enjoy Wii bowling,” she said.
“So we’ve got it implemented, and we also have the Wii Fit, and so we’re trying that out also.”
The center recently hosted a Valentine’s Day party and carry-in dinner.
“I awarded two door prizes, and we had three games with door prizes. It was a fun group of people, and the food was delicious,” Rowe said.
About 14 people attended the event.
The center had a beef and noodle dinner fundraiser in late January, which Rowe said was successful.
Coming up is the center’s annual silent auction fundraiser, which will take place Friday, April 21.
“We can take donations for that now,” Rowe said.
Donations for the auction can be anything, new or used, except clothing.
“[We will take] whatever anyone has to donate. We appreciate anything, because it all goes to support the Garber-Simmons Senior Center,” Rowe said.
The center is located in Suite 6 of the Town Life Center, at 603 Bond St. in North Manchester. It is open from 8:30-11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday.