Four area senior centers receive state funding

Four area senior centers have been awarded state grants, part of $2 million in funding set aside in the 2013-14 budget.

The money will go toward facility and technology upgrades and programming to attract new members, state officials said.

And local organizers said the money will be put to good use, with $2,500 going toward a joint community garden in East Freedom and $50,000 for computer software in Bedford to track and manage center activities.

Northern Cambria Senior Center received the most locally at just shy of $87,000, which center Manager Donna Shingle said will go toward a new parking lot.

“Our lot now has 17 parking spots. [Thursday] we had over 82 people, so they parked everywhere,” she said. “We are desperately in need of parking.”

Shingle said the center is active, with line dancing, darts and fitness activities throughout the week, along with ceramics, computer class, Bible study and, of course, bingo.

The craft club provides party favors every time the center hosts a dance or social night.

“They’re so crafty. I can’t even tell you how crafty they are,” she said.

Hopewell Senior Center Manager Teena Thomas its computer program will be used to collect and track data for center management.

The program will be centered in Hopewell but used by centers in Everett, Bedford, Hyndman and Juniata Valley, she said, and also will help directors organize memberships and write newsletters.

The Southern Blair Senior Center will use its money to kickstart a community garden program in conjunction with a NHS Human Services medical clinic and Through Inc. autism school, both of which are across the street in the old East Freedom Elementary School.

Blair Senior Services Inc. President Steve Williamson said the group spends about $850,000 annually on its centers, and said he was excited to receive the money needed for the garden.

He said activities at senior centers help people age better and improves their quality of life.

“It’s a win-win – it’s kind of like preventative medicine. We do everything, from lunch to zumba, depending on what your level of functionality is,” he said. “What we try to do is build something in there for everybody.”

The Bellefonte Senior Center in Centre County also received about $13,000.