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Senior Center North offers activities, camaraderie, fun

November 9, 2018

Fitness, camaraderie, nutritious lunches, and, of course, bingo, are just few of the benefits older residents are enjoying at the nonprofit Senior Center North in Allison Park on Mt. Royal Boulevard.

This is a great spot for those ages 60 and older who are looking for ways to spend their free time, said Wendy Allman, director of Home and community-based programs of the Northern Area Senior Centers, which also includes ones in Etna, Sharpsburg and Tarentum.

“It’s a place to meet, be active,” said Allman. “It’s a chance of hanging out with people who are near your age and have similar life experiences. It’s just fun.”

The nonprofit Senior Center North is open Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., free of charge. The center operates thanks to funding from the Allegheny County Area of Aging and is staffed with a coordinator and plenty of volunteers, Allman said.

It’s great for seniors living at home or in nearby senior communities that want to get out and “enjoy life in general,” she said.

Each center, including Senior Center North, hosts educational opportunities such as a Lunch and Learn event they hold every other Monday at noon. There’s a technology class at 10 a.m. Oct. 30. Earlier this month, Allman said they had a presentation on fraud.

The facility also provides fitness opportunities through the Community College of Allegheny County, as well as at the Senior Center North location. Fitness classes there are tailored to ensure visitors of varying abilities can participate, Allman said.

The center’s fitness schedule presently includes resistance exercises, seated yoga, free movie Mondays, and they just added line dancing, Allman said.

Guests to the center frequently take road trips to nearby senior communities for activities such as to Hampton Fields for Banjo Club or last week to Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh.

Rose Michalowski of Allison Park said she has been going to the center for years. She said people are “so friendly.” In addition to the games and cards, she especially enjoyed a seven-week course they held in dancing, learning steps like the “Alley Cat.”

And even though some aren’t mobile, they were able to dance in their chair, she said.

The center offers complimentary trips to several nearby stores throughout the month including Giant Eagle, Aldis, and the Dollar Store, according to the schedule.

Allman said there is a “hot, nutritious meal” served at noon every day they’re open. A dollar donation to offset costs is suggested but not required. Folks don’t need to say if they’re coming to the center, but it’s helpful for those to call the day prior if they’re planning on getting lunch.

For those seniors who no longer drive, that’s no problem, she said. They are part of the Access senior transportation program and the center’s site coordinator can assist with rides.

On Halloween there will be a special bingo party at 9:30 a.m., costume contest at 11:30 a.m., and Scrabble and cards after lunch. For those artsy people, they are doing a pumpkin craft at 12:30 p.m. Oct. 26.

Volunteers are always welcome, including senior citizens themselves who’d rather help out at the center, Allman said

The centers all feature a coordinator who is trained in emergency situations and basic first aid skills, she said. And they have a great relationship with the nearby ambulance service.

She said there’s no shortage of participants thanks to word of mouth. Meg Mulkearns, who has been coordinator at the Allison Park site for five years, said 25 to 40 people come in each day.

Mulkearns said a lot of the participants live alone so this is a chance to socialize.

“They’re really a tight-knit group. Everybody’s like a big family,” said Mulkearns of McCandless, who grew up in Shaler.

“They’re our best advertisement,” said Allman of the seniors who attend. “They draw folks in. Center North is really starting to grow and that’s very exciting.”

Frank Black, 81, of the North Hills, has been coming to the center for four years. He helps out with money they collect through activities and calls bingo occasionally.

“I enjoy coming here. (I like) just about everything,” said Black, who was in the U.S. Coast Guard for 20 years.

Michalowski of Allison Park said this is the perfect answer to those who may sit at home alone. “If they would get out to a place like this it really helps,” she said.

For more information on Senior Center North, visit namsseniorcenters.com or call 412-486-6426.

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