Olean’s senior programs at the John Ash Center ‘in full swing’ | New
OLEAN – Activity-hungry seniors are returning to the town’s senior center as nearly all programs are making a comeback.
Terry Shaw, director of the John J. Ash Community Center, is happy to have them after a complete shutdown due to COVID-19 in 2020 and a slow restart.
“We’re going all-out now – we do just about everything,” Shaw said, with the center open for breakfasts, various activities and gathering meals with the Cattaraugus County Department of Aging Home Meal Program. .
Users have struggled to get the programs back on track, he added.
“They’ve been starving for 18 months,” Shaw said. “They cry for things to do.”
Despite the reopening, some changes were necessary for the sake of the pandemic and the protection of seniors. The city requires all unvaccinated people to wear face masks inside city buildings. Shaw noted a shift to sealed foods for the breakfast crowd, like single-serve fruit. Sanitizing stations are located throughout the facility and Coasters volunteers wipe down tables after each use.
“We would like them to get vaccinated or wear a mask, but most people here already have them,” Shaw said.
The centre’s anecdotes match data from the state’s health ministry, which reports that nearly three in four Cattaraugus County residents aged 65 to 74 have a completed vaccine series, and more than two in three residents 75 years of age and over have been fully immunized. – well above the levels reported for younger age groups.
Due to high vaccination rates among the elderly and a desire to get out, many events have been successful despite the pandemic. A senior picnic in August – held during a rainstorm – again saw 90 people show up, he said as an example.
“Come in and give us a try,” he said. “Seniors need to socialize… it’s a safe place, no one judges you. You are surrounded by people who are in the same boat as you.
The users were happy to come back, said Chris Crawford, a volunteer member of the Coasters who help run the center.
“I couldn’t wait to be here every morning,” she said. “It gives me life”
Shaw praised the group, which not only helps organize events, but also raises funds to support them.
“Without the volunteers this place wouldn’t work very well,” he said. “They do a lot of things for me.”
Such efforts help to keep costs to a minimum by limiting staff costs.
“Most of the programming is free,” Shaw said, with a few exceptions.
Line dance classes were introduced for this fall, Shaw said, with classes for beginner and intermediate dancers. The cost is $ 3 for each session. A square dance program is also in preparation, he added.
Pétanque at the William O. Smith Recreation Center is also expected to begin. The cost is $ 6 for seniors.
“We’re probably going to launch a winter golf league,” said Shaw, who will use the indoor laser golf system purchased last year to increase the popular summer league at St. Bonaventure University Golf Club. .
Several upcoming events are in preparation.
On September 21, the Center for Elder Law will host a free legal advice session for seniors from 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. No reservation is necessary.
On October 2, the center will hold its annual indoor garage sale from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Donations for sale are accepted during the opening hours of the center.
Programs and events aren’t limited to city residents only, Shaw said, adding that it’s common to bring in seniors from neighboring communities.
In addition to breakfast, exercise equipment is available free of charge between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. on weekdays for seniors.
This week’s activities include:
12:30 p.m. – Line dance ($ 3)
10:00 am – Tai Chi video
Noon – Ice Bocce at the Recreation Center ($ 6)
12:30 p.m. – Euchre ($ 6)
The programs are aimed at people 60 years of age and over and are sponsored by the City of Oléan Parks and Recreation Department and the Aging Issues Planning Committee. For more information on the programs, call (716) 376-5670. The property is also available for rent.