Opportunity-mania at the senior center
Smashing beer cans against your head, using a hot iron to straighten out wrinkles on your husband�s face and wearing a speedo are all �bad ideas for older folk,� according to Toni Peller, the Blaine Senior Center programmer who writes a monthly newsletter called �Bits and Pieces.�
�Everybody reads it,� she said, adding she�s been writing the newsletter for the last 13 years. �I have many files and many sayings. I love doing it. I always say that maybe somebody can do it better, but I�m not about to let them try.�
This is the attitude the senior center strives to teach its community, especially its mature adults. �The whole focus of the senior center is to keep seniors in their home as long as possible,� center director Judy Van Brocklin said, noting the promotion of recreational and independent activities are important.
The Blaine center is one of the four largest in the county, and has a satellite center with Point Roberts, both of which are directed by Van Brocklin. There are many informational opportunities available to help seniors, including assistance with nutrition, estate management, medication information, and a fitness program.
�It�s (fitness program) a 10-week course they have to complete. You go through a process of building your muscles,� Peller said, adding it was created by Dr. Kathleen Knutsen of Western Washington University.
On any given day, 60 people will come to the fitness area to work out, Van Brocklin said. It takes about $30,000 to start up the basic fitness program, including equipment, but the senior center has received support from various foundations, including the Keller Foundation. �The support in Blaine from the city on down has been awesome,� Van Brocklin said.
In addition, there are also aerobic and line dancing classes taught at the center, which Peller adds �They really cut up a rug.�
�We try to give a real balanced continuation of education,� Van Brocklin said, whether it�s for physical or mental health. �We want to emphasize inter-generational activities as well. This building is for all kinds of different, multi-faceted uses.�
For those seeking activities where they don�t have to sweat, the center offers everything from pool tournaments and theater happenings to a library and sign language course, as well as hot meal delivery. �Not everyone is going to make a roast,� Peller said. �So we can make it and bring it to them. At least this way we know they�re all getting good meals,� Peller said.
In recent years, the center has recorded more and more users, with more than 30,000 visits from people last year. �We�ve had close to 400 new members in the last year or so,� Van Brocklin said.
The center itself has come a long way, as the first senior center started in a local church and was moved in 1978 to the current site, but was in a building one-third the size of the current center. About 11 years ago, the building was torn down and the new structure was built.
The center is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 2 p. m, on Saturday, and can be reached at 332-8040. �This community is great. It�s wonderful, isn�t it?� Peller said.