Senior Center hoping to draw bigger crowd with expansion|[06/15/08]

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 15, 2008

Vicksburg Senior Center is getting a makeover.

“I’ve been wishing for it for a couple of years, but it surfaced as a reality in the last month and a half or so,” director Jennifer Harper said.

The senior center, at Walnut and South streets, will expand into the next bay of the building that sits adjacent to City Hall, which was formerly occupied by the Inspection Department. The center opened at the South and Walnut location in April 1999.

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The city will fund the $14,000 expansion, which will include new carpet, a fresh coat of paint and a kitchen expansion.

“The biggest asset will be the larger kitchen. The senior citizens love to cook and love to hold potluck suppers,” Harper said.

Adults qualify at age 50 to participate in senior center activities, which include bingo, arts and crafts, piano and computer lessons. A new activity is the occasional Mystery Trip. In May, seniors boarded buses to be taken to their mystery destination, which turned out to be The Duff Green Mansion, an antebellum home on First East Street.

“Our mission is to encourage continuing education. We add quality to lives by adding fellowship, friendship, talking about medical issues and nutrition,” Harper said.

More space means more people, which is something about which Harper is excited. “It will enable me to have larger crowds for art classes and craft activities. We’ll be able to have four tables of bridge instead of being limited to three.”

The senior center’s biggest crowd, 45 or 50, comes on Wednesdays, which is Bingo night.

“The world stops on Wednesdays,” Harper said.

“The bigger, the better,” Mabel Peterson, 83, said of the expansion. “I hope they’ll see us having a good time and join us. Sometimes I get up and I feel bad, but then I go to the center and I feel like a different person.”

Participants are a key factor in keeping the senior center viable. “My numbers are what I go to the board with,” Harper said. “It’s my ammunition.”

Harper estimates the expansion will be complete by the end of June, though it depends on the city’s building maintenance crew’s schedule.

She hopes to schedule an open house for the fall.