Some operations could resume at senior center


JASPER — As Indiana’s statewide reopening pushes forward, leadership at Jasper’s Older Americans Center is planning how its facility will resume some of its operations in the coming weeks.

The center — which is located in the Arnold F. Habig Community Center on St. Charles Street — is eyeing a soft reopening early next month, with much of its programming still paused as health guidance continues to dictate decisions and protect at-risk populations.

“It just depends daily on what happens,” explained Carrie Dick, the facility’s director. “But as it looks now, we’re going to try to do a soft opening July 6.”

She later continued: “And not having any activities. Just allowing people to slowly come back in and hopefully use the exercise room and that kind of stuff.”

The center locked its doors to the public on March 16, the same day that Gov. Eric Holcomb debuted his first iteration of the state’s stay-at-home order. Staff worked at home during the beginning of the order, but later assisted in launching the city pool’s season. Eventually, they went back into the center to clean chairs in the banquet room and complete other maintenance items, like painting a fireplace.

“Just trying to do a deep cleaning while we had the opportunity,” Dick said. “Not knowing how long we were going to be closed.”

Before COVID-19 began to spread, the center was a gathering space for Dubois County residents who are at least 55 years old. They’d play cards and board games together, exercise with each other and just pop in to hang out.

When that atmosphere will fully return remains to be seen.

“I don’t know what it looks like for our activities,” Dick explained. “Because so many of them are hands-on. Between dominos, and cards, and Tripoley, and all that kind of stuff. Bingo. It’s all a lot of hands-on stuff. So, that’s what we’re trying to figure out from here on out. What those activities will look like, and what we have to do to keep the participants safe. As safe as possible.”

In the meantime, Kaci Wehr, the site’s community engagement coordinator, has been leading exercise classes online via Facebook live. Online videos will continue to be posted even when the exercise facilities open under social distancing guidelines, for those who want to continue working out from home.

As for those other activities, the center is taking cues from the Indiana Park and Recreation Association and reaching out to other agencies to see what they’re doing. Senior centers give those who are in life’s later chapters a chance to interact socially with others and stay active in fun ways.

They want to get back inside, Dick said. But a hesitance exists, too.

The hope is that more activities will resume locally in August, but that is dependent on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines as well as guidance from the state.

“I think for all of us that have the senior centers, it’s just so uncertain,” Dick said.

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