It’s been only a month since the Snow Pond Senior Center held its soft open with an April 30th open house, and they are off to a great start. The space is warm and inviting, and a sign welcoming guests reads, “Snow Pond Seniors, where no one sits alone.”
The center, located at 47 Heath Street has a kitchen, bathrooms, a game room, two crafting rooms, and a central meeting room for presentations. They have been holding regular hours, Tuesday and Wednesday from 10-2, since May 7th. They’ve already hosted a special presentation on CPR taught by Delta Ambulance and currently offer weekly fiber arts classes taught by Anne Hammond. They plan to offer Tai Chi Tuesdays starting next month.
“I think it’s safe to say we already have a few regulars,” said Donna Griffin, one of the founding members. The center is already visited by between 8-12 people a day on average. Seniors come in to grab a cup of coffee, play a few hands of cards, take a class, or simply engage in conversation with friends.
The senior center project was launched by Sherry Gilbert and Chuck Pare in response to Oakland’s lack of activities for seniors. They saw a definite need to be filled as residents over 60 make up more than 25 percent of the town’s population. Gilbert and Pare soon rallied a group of other interested individuals to brainstorm a solution. Early this year, the Town of Oakland made a deal to rent the old superintendent’s office from the RSU 18 school district for the use of the Snow Pond Seniors. The town currently pays $300 a month to rent the facility from the district, but the Snow Pond Seniors are planning to write grants in order to cover as much of the cost as possible.
The group decided to pattern their center off of the Golden Oldies Senior Center in Richmond and got that group’s advice on the best way to get the ball rolling. “They recommended that we start slow, so that’s what we’re doing,” said Gilbert. “We hope to eventually increase our hours and the number of days we’re opened.”
They also have a lot of plans to connect with the local schools. “We want to go to Atwood to read to the kids, of course,” said Griffin, “but we also want to do programs with the high school.” They hope to set up presentations to share their own knowledge and expertise with the students and, hopefully, help students fulfill community service hours by having them come up to teach basic courses on technology. “We’re trying to make it a two-way street,” added Gilbert.
Perhaps the best part of the Senior Center’s story is how the whole community has rallied around them. “We’re very happy to have the senior center up and running,” said RSU18 Superintendent Carl Gartley, “Anytime we can do something that helps the community, we all benefit.” The RSU 18 maintenance team helped get the building and grounds ready and Superintendent Gartley supplied the group with bulletin boards, a whiteboard, tables, and chairs and, most recently, a piano. The Kingdom of Life Church has helped with landscaping, the Lion’s Club has gifted the group with needed items and offered support on a multitude of levels, and the Oakland town council has been indispensable in bringing it all together. The Waterville Chamber of Commerce is even throwing an official ribbon cutting ceremony and Grand Opening for the Center on June 4th at 11:00 am.
While the Senior Center has some great momentum going they are still looking for a few items. They need a refrigerator, storage cabinet, card tables, kitchen cabinets, and an AED. Gifts of consumables like powdered creamer, or things like games and books are also appreciated. If you or someone you know is interested in making a gift, or if you have questions about the center’s operations, contact email@example.com. You can also follow them on Facebook.
written by Mandi Favreau