By Melanie Patterson

The North Jefferson News

Senior citizens in Gardendale have good reason to celebrate.

On June 14, they will do just that as the Gardendale Senior Center marks five years of service.

The event will feature music, food, health screenings and senior-interest informational booths.

“I’m proud of the fact that we’ve been in business five years,” said senior center director Peggy Hoback Clark. “When I came, I decided I wanted to make this place a lighthouse for seniors.”

Clark, who has been the center’s director since it opened in 2003, sees the five-year celebration as an outreach.

“We’re trying to reach out to the silver-haired folks to let them know they need to be here,” Clark said. “So many seniors have nowhere to go and they’re just lonesome. They’re at the stage of life where they’re losing their spouses. But they can come here and find friends and camaraderie.”

Clark said that in five years, she has seen the center become “much warmer” and friendlier.

“When we first opened, people were standoffish,” she said. “People are much more friendly now. We’re a family. We mourn losses together and we celebrate the birth of grandchildren together.”

The center’s calendar stays full. On Mondays and Thursdays, there are Bingo games, with Chuck Clendening and Bud Burgess serving as Bingo callers.

Tuesdays are by far the most popular days, as four music groups rotate playing each week.

They are Craford Rooks and the Fultondale Bluegrass Band, Skip Drake and Friends, the Brookridge Drifters and Four Picks and a Bow.

Wednesdays feature exercise classes, competitive games and guest speakers.

On Fridays, there is a blueberry pancake breakfast sponsored by Townes, Woods and Roberts P.C.; competitive games; and some downtime for seniors to just sit and visit.

The June 14 celebration will feature the four regular bands, as well as a Smart Moves line dance exhibition and Valerie Childers Clogging.

Clark particularly encourages adult children to take their parents to the celebration in order to introduce them to the center.

“There is a misconception out there that a senior center is a charity lunch program,” said Clark.

While the center does offer a free hot lunch every day, there is much more.

“That’s the hook to get people in to socialize,” Clark said. “I’m trying to provide as much stimulus to keep them mentally alert, healthier and happier as long as I can.”

The five-year celebration will take place at the Gardendale Senior Center and the adjacent Gardendale Civic Center June 14, 9 a.m. to noon.

For more information, call Clark at 631-7240.

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