There’s Plenty to Stay Busy With at the City of Kokomo Senior Citizens Center
Writer / Julie Yates
Photographer / John Bolinger
Tucked away at the west end of Foster Park, the Senior Citizens Center is an amenity provided by the City of Kokomo that improves the quality of life for many. Located in an unassuming building on West Superior Street, people have mistaken it for a nursing home. Inside, however, it bustles with activity. It provides welcome recreation and even nutrition, plus a bit of education, to residents aged 50 and over.
“I always say it’s the best-kept secret in Kokomo, although people have been coming here for years,” says Mendi Snow, office manager. “It’s been here since 1976 but it has been added on to. Most of the seniors who come here are very active.”
Annual membership is $3 for those living within the city limits, and $4 for those outside. Besides all the recreational happenings the facility provides, the staff also serves a daily lunch and provides participants with up-to-date information about services and programs geared toward seniors. Lunches are provided by Area Five Agency on Aging and Community Services. The cost of lunch is $4.50, and it’s free for adults aged 60 and over.
“We have a kitchen area that has warmers and coolers,” Snow says. “Lunch is eaten in the Grand Room where most activities such as line dancing and Zumba take place. The room has round tables and 10 long tables where people sit together to eat.”
“There are three really nice pool tables in the pool room,” Snow adds. “On Monday, Wednesday and Friday there are pool tournaments and bingo. There’s a lot of laughing and talking. Tuesday and Thursdays seem quieter. Those are morning stretch, euchre, and bridge days. After morning stretch there are sponsored talks given by local businesses, or organizations like nursing homes or therapy places. The talks give tips such as how to prevent falls or what’s changing in Medicare plans.”
Patrons also enjoy parties. Birthdays are celebrated and the staff offers dances on Saturday nights for a $4 admission fee. During the week members can brush up on their dance skills by participating in sessions for beginning line dancing and Zumba.
“The center is completely handicap accessible, and also has an area for cards and TV viewing,” Snow says. “Some people only come just for one activity, while others come for several. We have a provision for those who may be worried about coming at first. If grandma is shy, she can bring a son, daughter or grandchild with her, but they have to be at least 21. After about one or two times, people feel very comfortable and don’t need the family member.”
On the City of Kokomo website, information about the Senior Citizens Center can be accessed. A downloadable calendar is available, plus a page that provides links to many agencies and resources. Information is given that ranges from discount drug programs to Meals on Wheels. There are links to other sites that give valuable information on topics such as identity theft, the Better Business Bureau and medical alert systems.
The staff members pride themselves on getting to know the seniors who enjoy the activities offered. They may telephone a participant who misses a session, just to check in with them. During the COVID-19 shutdowns it was evident that members missed the camaraderie and programs. Some ladies brought chairs and met outside on the grounds to talk. Others would drive by or call in to see when it would reopen.
“During COVID we took the time to clean carpets and painted,” Snow says. “I called groups such as the pool guys to see how people were doing. It was evident that the seniors missed their friends. When we did reopen, it was slower than before but it gradually picked up again. Our goal is that we want people to get out and stay active. It keeps your mind sharp by being busy. Everyone gets one freebie. Come try it out and see if you like it.”
The City of Kokomo Senior Citizens Center is located at 721 West Superior Street. For more info, call 765-456-7557 or visit cityofkokomo.org.