A little bit about our history......
Beginning in 1977 as a Nutrition program under the direction of the Continuing Education Program of the Eaton Rapids Public Schools, fifty seniors came together to eat lunch twice a week in the Board Room of the old high school building on Hall Street. Jean Marie Kline was the first Director of the group, and it was under her direction that the Senior Center was legally organized and the current property was purchased and remodeled as it stands today.
The first place the City of Eaton Rapids offered the group for office space was the old public restroom building on Hamlin Street. In exchange, the group was in charge of keeping the restroom clean and open to the public. During meal time on Tuesday and Friday the small office was closed and the seniors meet at the old high school building for lunch and a program. It was at that time the Senior Center became a legally organized, non-profit group and the first board members were elected, by-laws were written, and the group officially became the Rocking Chair Deserters, Inc.
The need for a center to call our own became apparent and the group set off to raise money without handouts from the community. Bazaars, bake sales and Medicine Shows were held. Books on local history and calendars with local pictures were published and sold. After 7 years enough money was raised to purchase the current property and it was remodeled. In March, 1984, the center opened its doors for lunch and served 105 people. By 1987 our center had added a new addition increasing the capacity of the building to hold 146 people. Two years later the parking lot was paved and air conditioning was installed.
The Senior Center is known for its monthly Swiss steak dinner, a delicious homemade meal which includes pie for dessert, on the first Thursday of each month. Bingo, a vital fundraiser for the Center, is held every Wednesday night. All these events and programs are fundraisers that help to keep the Senior Center debt-free and open to the public. In addition, the Senior Center operates on funds from private donations. The City of Eaton Rapids helps by funding our utilities and plowing our parking lots, also. Meijer and the Greater Lansing Area Foodbank have also generously supported our lunch programs.
Our center has provided several services to our seniors over the years including: tax assistance, assistance with SSI and Medicare, counseling, transportation to doctor’s appointments, exercise classes, foot treatments, hearing tests, blood pressure screening, flu shots, wills and estate planning seminars. Over the years different programs have developed and cultivated friendships at the center. Craft groups, card groups, Jam sessions, dances, exercise group, the monthly newsletter, the friendship group and Wii bowling are examples of the programs offered.
Some of those who worked so hard in the late 1970’s early 1980’s to make their dream come true hardly had a chance to enjoy it. This is the only Senior Center known to have been built by the seniors themselves, one dollar at a time. Our founders gave us a great gift:our own center, debt-free, a place to meet and enjoy fellowship and friendships. It is up to all of us to continue with the tradition and keep the torch burning.
Jean Bradford Kline Senior Center 201 Grand St. Eaton Rapids, MI 48827 517-663-2335 firstname.lastname@example.org
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