On Aug.19, 1988, President Ronald Reagan issued proclamation 5847 naming Aug. 21 as National Senior Citizens' Day.
He said, in part, "For all they have achieved throughout life and for all they continue to accomplish, we owe older citizens our thanks and a heartfelt salute. We can best demonstrate our gratitude and esteem by making sure that our communities are good places in which to mature and grow older places in which older people can participate to the fullest and can find the encouragement, acceptance, assistance, and services they need to continue to lead lives of independence and dignity."
The Allegheny Community Center on Clark Street in Warren is just such a place. The center offers reasonably price good food, games, music, special events and comaraderie to an average of 60 people a day. The community center opened in the fall of 2010, combining the efforts of five county senior centers.
Times Observer photo by Rob Andersen
A group of seniors line dance in class at the Allegheny Community Center twice a week. The center has a good mix of entertainment, games and food for community members as well as senior citizens. There is also a computer room, where computers are available, and personal laptops may also be used.
On Wednesday afternoon, Donna Hickey, Joyce Mead, Lois Colvin and Carol Turner were enjoying a game of Mahjong in one of the center's recreation rooms.
Turner said she had been coming to the senior center "probably for nine years, counting five years when it was over on Fourth Avenue." She spoke of her retirement, saying, "I love it. I raised four kids and worked at Blair for 31 years. (Now) no one owns a piece of my time."
Hickey added, "You meet a lot of people here, with a lot of avocations. There's often music, and every Friday the Jammers play. There's yoga, tai chi and wonderful lunches."
Colvin, who retired from Warren State Hospital, said she comes two or three times a week, depending on her schedule.
Every Tuesday and Wednesday, there is a one-hour line dancing class. Joan Madigan of Starbrick said she has been line dancing since 1996. "It's good exercise, and, of course, good company." She added that they entertain nursing home residents with a half-hour show, then visit with the residents.
In the exercise room, Donna Bumbarger, who also retired from the state hospital, said she visits the center on an average, three times a week in the winter, and two or three times a week in the summer. "I come here for cards, dinners and special activities," she added.
Transit Authority of Warren County driver Michele Farr said that more than half of her passengers were senior citizens.
The definition of "senior citizen" has changed over the years, with different agencies and organizations using different ages. The community center now defines anyone over the age of 50 as senior, although people of any age are welcome when events aren't specifically scheduled for seniors.