Muncie senior center finally shaking off winter blahs, but full recovery could take years

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MUNCIE, Indiana — The weather is perfect with sunshine and 70-degree temperatures on this mid-August morning, yet there is nary a peep within a mile radius of the Muncie Delaware County Senior Center.

Inside the center is where the action is.

A dozen or so fancy-footed senior citizens show off their moves in a lively line-dancing class in the large meeting room.

The small meeting room is tranquil by contrast. Five seniors sit on chairs meditating as their seated yoga class winds down.

Step out of the meeting room into the hallway, walk a few paces north and the sound of sway-inducing music booms from the back room where 73-year-old Emily Jones plays the organ.

The senior center is bustling, and the crowd size only increases for lunch and the afternoon euchre games.

Executive Director Bruce Reynolds tells The Star Press (http://tspne.ws/1pXU0Et ) 604 seniors participated in July programs, and the center is on pace for another impressive total this month.

A steady flow of traffic is essential for the financially-strapped center. Grant funding takes care of a significant portion of its $90,000 annual budget, but monetary donations and a few dollars here and there from customers add up.

"The resources for nonprofit programming is really drying up," says Reynolds, a stout man whose sense of humor and caring personality endears him to the seniors. "It's generally for the middle to lower poverty level, so we're desperately trying to keep our fees as low as possible. We charge $2.50 at the most."

Inclement weather conditions this past winter took a financial toll on the center. Reynolds estimates the center will take two to three years to recover from the accrued expenses.

The center lost eight days of business, and when open, few seniors risked traveling in the snowy and icy conditions to the facility.

Reynolds says the cost to shovel snow and melt ice off the parking lot cost a pretty penny. Fixing the facade and repairing broken appliances further depleted the budget.

"We're very picky about the condition of our parking lot," Reynolds says. "We don't want to take a chance on someone slipping and falling. I was on pins and needles watching these folks trying to get in."

Winter weather will return soon enough, but on this delightful summer morning, a steady stream of seniors parked their vehicles in the lot or step off the MITS bus and walked into the center.

Just about every program imaginable is offered here, from bingo to card games to computer classes to dancing. Edie Fisher, a petite and spunky 94-year-old, manages a thrift shop that attracts seniors to the center, too.

Jones is just as energetic as Fisher. She teaches music lessons and participates in computer classes, Bible study and a half dozen other programs.

She considers the center to be her second home.

"It's essential and I think more people should use it," says Jones, whose curly gray hair is layered above her shoulders and whose fashion sense is evident in that her light blue pants match the blue in her striped button-up shirt. "You don't want to be so snobbish that you can't learn anything."


Information from: The Star Press, http://www.thestarpress.com

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