Senior centers ‘like another home’

By Debbi Elmore | August 1, 2022

A recent transplant to Wichita, Odean Moore didn’t know anyone prior to joining the Linwood Senior Center. “I made a lot of friends,” she said.  She takes part in exercise classes, outings, Bible study and more offered by the center. “It’s like another home when you’re by yourself,” she said.

Sue Bechtel, a long-time member of Sedgwick’s senior center, points with pride to the freestanding building which houses it. The center has a meal program which includes home-delivered meals as well as those served on site, exercise classes, line dancing, a quilt circle and special events during the town’s annual Fall Festival. Once a month, she teaches a paint class. “I have a good time,” she said. “It’s good to be active.”

Nearly three dozen senior centers are active in Sedgwick, Butler and Harvey counties, offering outings, exercise classes, volunteer opportunities, educational programs and more. (For a complete list of centers and their contact information, see page 17). 

The coronavirus pandemic caused area senior centers to close or severely curtail their activities, but most have now resumed much of their programming, even as some struggle with attendance and funding. In Sedgwick County, county officials in June redirected $100,000 that had been earmarked for senior centers to other uses, and some have questioned whether the centers are still important to a significant portion of older residents.

But for those who regularly attend the centers, they make a huge difference.

Vicki Shepard said having a senior center was a big perk in her move to Augusta. “I get an inexpensive, warm lunch every day,” she said. “There is companionship and games and friendship.”