Girard center builds community
Building, programming get upgrades
GIRARD — The Girard Multi-Generational Center opened 22 years ago this spring, and over the years improvements and enhancements have been made to the building and more programming has been added.
“We are always offering new programming for people who come to the center,” said Laura Carey, center administrator / director.
This year, seniors will learn how to be safe in their homes and avoid falls, and local police departments will train at the center with the newest safety updates provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Carey said a new “Matter of Balance” program will have people attending eight sessions on fall prevention in their homes, and learning ways to safeguard their residences.
She said there are balance exercises, and ways to make a house less dangerous when going up and down stairs and getting in and out of tubs.
While the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 forced the center to close and offer less programming, things have since changed.
In addition to weekly crafts, chair massages, health screenings, bingo and board games, there also is pickleball in the center’s gymnasium.
Carey said a group of retired people, including many attorneys and judges, comes and plays.
“The pickleball not only brings people from Girard and McDonald, but also from Cortland, Howland and Warren,” she noted. Pickleball started last year.
Most people who use the center are from Girard since there is a levy paid by Girard city residents for the center. People coming from outside Girard pay a higher membership fee.
“In 2023, we look forward to continued growth with our new programs and developing additional programs to meet our member and community needs,” Carey said.
She said the center sees on average 20 people per day but once tax season starts in March and April, there will be as many as 50 people per day. The center has a partnership with the AARP Tax Aide program for free federal and state tax preparation.
The center is also used as a voting site for residents of the city’s 4th Ward.
“Many people come and go all day. We have some who stay for activities and others who stop in to exercise and some come to socialize. Many people use the fitness room,” Carey said.
Carey said the center often is shared with other organizations such as the Girard Police Department and FBI. They will be using the center in February and May for updated active shooter training sessions.
She said local police will be updating their certification through the FBI and instructors with the University of Texas.
The Girard City School District also uses the center for kindergarten screenings and community programs, such as the FIRST Robotics team from Girard High School.
The center also has collaborated with the Trumbull County Combined Health District to host COVID-19 vaccine clinics.
Programs are offered for all ages.
“The center is multi-generational so we love to have the different age groups,” she said.
In the past year, there have been more than 40 new members.
Carey said in the spring and summer, people stay active in the community garden and share the produce grown there. In early June, the center hosts an annual car show fundraiser.
“It is our main fundraiser and is very popular,” she said.
The center has a themed luncheon every month and does holidays events such as Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day, a cheese and cracker event, chili cookoff, apple cookoff and crock pot lunch.
The building also has seen improvements over the years, including a new roof in 2020 covered by state funds and assistance from the Trumbull County commissioners. The roof was removed and replaced on the single-story wing of the building with funding obtained through efforts of county Planning Commission Director Julie Green and her team.
Many Community Development Block Grants through the county have helped the center with projects such as installing handicapped accessible doors and other doors that allow for camera monitoring.
The building opened in May 2001.
“We had to get a new roof. There was a lot of water damage. … We put a new roof on when we opened up the center. Back then, we also put in new heating and air conditioning,” Carey said.
She said there was also a new addition at the front entrance of the building where an elevator was installed in 2001. Carey said in 2018 the main part of the building — which was built originally in 1919 as a school — had new roof and brick work done.
“We have worked very closely with the Trumbull commissioners and the county planning commission to be able to do upgrades and be able to keep an older building updated and usable,” Carey said.
WHAT MEMBERS LIKE
Ruth Ralston of Girard does chair massages and said it allows for talking one-on-one with people.
“They are a great group of fun people to spend time with,” she said. ”People like to talk when they are getting a massage and relaxing.”
Ralston also enjoys the holiday fun nights.
“It is like being with a family when you come here. There are so many activities to choose from. I tell people all that we do here and they are amazed,” she said.
Terri Johnston of Girard, who became a member last summer, said: “I love it here. You are welcomed the minute you walk in here.”
Johnston said the center is like a second home for her to be with others. She said she likes exercising and stretching.
The center is located at 443 Trumbull Ave. and is open 8 a.m. to 4 .m. Monday to Friday. For more information, call 330-545-6596.