The new senior center offers almost every imaginable activity under one roof.
By PETER H. MILLIKEN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
HERMITAGE, Pa. -- For 79-year-old Della Mae Meckler of Sharon, the new $2.9 million senior center here is a place to regularly enjoy nutritious meals and a multitude of activities with friends.
"I participate in almost every activity," said Meckler, who retired about 10 years ago from her job as an employment agency supervisor.
"I am principally interested in being out and being with people, as are most elderly people," who she said, "need some reason to get up in the morning and get going."
Meckler was at the center Friday, the day of its formal grand opening. After four years of planning, the center, known as the Shenango Valley Center for Aging and Geriatric Health, actually opened Jan. 31.
"You get a chance to be with your friends. That's very important as you grow older, to have a support group of friends. And down here, we're all like a big family, and it's a wonderful thing," she said.
"It's the implementation of an array of services under one roof for older people," said Ann Marie Spiardi, chief executive officer of the Mercer County Area Agency on Aging, which owns the building. The new center is the county's largest senior service center. "It's a one-stop shopping center for senior services," she added.
Located at 220 N. Buhl Farm Drive, the center consists of the remodeled former Bill Rudge Ministries building together with an expansion. The construction is being paid for by a $2.4 million loan, backed by a county bond issue, with the remainder being covered by municipalities in Mercer County. Rudge Ministries moved to a new building next door.
The new senior center features a hot lunch program, a host of exercise and recreational programs; a medical clinic; physical, speech, occupational and music therapy; social work and dietitian services; state-licensed adult day care; a computer lab; and an enclosed courtyard for activities. Even line and tap dancing and yoga are offered there.
"There is something for everybody here. I highly recommend it," Meckler said.
It also includes a central kitchen. The one-story center is handicapped accessible and centrally located along a public bus line.
The medical portion of the center is run by the Primary Health Network, UPMC Horizon and UPMC's Community Medicine Inc.
"This is a magnificent place," said Hermitage City Commissioner Patrick White. Senior citizens are "deserving of a place like this," he added.
"Most of these people were born during the Depression. They've been through World War II and the Korean War. It makes me feel good to see that people have a place that they can come to and get all these services," he said.