Senior Center project shows public service

Monday, July 21, 2003

Think back, for a moment, to the year 1999. That was when supporters of the Heritage Senior Center started getting serious about expansion. It seemed like such a big dream at the time, because -- even then -- the estimated cost of expanding was more than a half million dollars.

But -- despite the enormity of the task -- the senior citizens took on the challenge, starting small and growing steadily -- with little gifts and large grants -- until, finally, last week, a grand total of $830,115 had been raised.

Hallelujah! Who would have ever guessed that a group of golden agers, working together, could pull off a project of this scope. But they did, conducting dozens of fund-raising events and applying, successfully, for a series of major grants.

As a result of all the senior citizens' efforts, groundbreaking took place this week for a project which will double the size of the center, increasing the square footage from 5,544 square feet to 11,088 square feet. When work is finally complete next June, the Heritage Senior Center will have triple the space in the kitchen and double the size in the dining room, allowing the center to seat up to 275 people at one time.

Even as the work begins, the giving continues. The latest generous contribution comes from the Assembly of God Church, which is allowing the senior center free use of the church's annex for the next ten months. Until the center expansion is complete and ready for use, seniors will gather each weekday at the church annex, located at 811 East C Street. It's across town from the senior center, but getting there will be no problem as the Handi-Bus is available and seniors share rides on a regular basis.

"Meals and related activities will continue on a regular basis," said the Heritage Senior Center Director, Sue Chipman. Other activities -- such as card clubs and pool games -- are being arranged at seniors' homes and other locations.

Yes, it will take some adjusting, but the long-range benefit will be worth it, as McCook area seniors will be moving into an attractive, expanded facility in late spring or early summer of 2004.

By working together, and never giving up, seniors have shown that outstanding accomplishments are possible. For that, the entire community is grateful. The city's active senior citizens are not only providing us with a nice building; they are giving us a wonderful example of community service.

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