The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

January 27, 2013

Center keeps people happy, healthy and young


WINDBER — Many members of the older generation are active and healthy, and Windber’s Center for Life offers programs and activities to keep them that way.

Many older seniors and Baby Boomers in their 60s are doing everything they can to stay as full of life and energetic as possible.

The center, located at 700 Fifth St., Suite 200, in Windber Medical Center, is one of seven senior centers in Somerset County operated by Somerset County Area Agency on Aging.

“We are more of a community center because we want people of all ages to take advantage of what we have to offer,” said Eleanor Pile, the center’s senior services director.

It is widely accepted that seniors today aren’t the grannys and grandpaps of the past.

“Many of the people who come here do not consider themselves old,” Pile said.

“We had four women in their 90s who came in each week to play pinochle, and they drove themselves to get here.”

The center is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.

However, the doors are open to visitors during extended hours by simply making a telephone call to arrange for security to unlock the door.

It’s a place that boasts a friendly atmosphere where people want to be with their peers.

“We have men come in at 7 a.m. for a coffee klatch to read the newspaper or socialize with friends,” Pile said.  

Pile agreed with the assertion that more than 10 million Americans take part in activities through the

15,000 senior centers around the country.

“Our goal is to offer a variety of educational programs that will keep people healthy, happy and as independent as they can be,” she said.

“It’s a good way to meet friends or make new ones, get fit, take a class, get help and have fun.”

Delores Block of Windber is a staunch supporter of the center.

“I go every day,” Block said.

“We have something for everybody, and it is one of the most active centers around.”

Block said it is easy to spend the entire day at the center and enjoy a good meal between activities.

Meals are offered daily beginning at 11:30 a.m. at minimal cost to anyone 60 years old or older, but the invitation to eat extends to the community.

For mature diners, the cost is $3 or an anonymous donation of whatever amount a person can afford.

“For others, the cost is $7,” Pile said.

“To the best of my knowledge, Somerset County centers are the only ones to offer three meal selections, which feature a hot meal, an entree salad or a café meal.”

Meal reservations are recommended by calling the center at 467-5912. Take-outs also are available.

Like many senior centers, Windber’s is a lively place that brings together older adults who want to be engaged in their communities with their peers.

Windber offers a range of services and activities for people of all ages.

The center boasts exercise equipment, a summer picnic, health and wellness seminars, health screenings and self-help programs, to name a few.

“We offer four exercise classes a week, all free,” Pile said.

“On Thursdays, we offer a Tai Chi exercise program and chair massages, all free.”

On the first and third Friday of each month, the center offers doctor-ordered blood work from 8 to 10 a.m. as well as free blood-pressure screenings on the first Tuesday of each month.

“We have a dance once a month with music usually by Rich Hagens,” Pile said.

“On the first Friday of each month, we have movie night at 6 p.m. on our 65-inch TV and free refreshments, which is open to the public.”

Participants also have the option of walking the indoor track, socializing with others over card and board games, or taking advanced or beginner’s computer classes at no charge.

“What people will find at the Center for Life is a place where people genuinely care for each other,” Pile said.

“It’s no exaggeration to say that we are like family and we support each other.”

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