Center attracting variety of active seniors to facility

By Lynn R. Parks

Kaye Turnball, of Greenwood, felt the need to exercise. She considered joining a gym but first visited the Nanticoke Senior Center, Seaford. Once she saw the center’s gymnasium and exercise room, she was sold. “I joined the first day I came,” said Turnball, 57. “Now, I come here about three times a week. And I love it.” It isn’t just the exercise that keeps her coming back. “It is nice to see so many helpful people,” she said. “If someone is new on an exercise machine, everybody is willing to help. And if you just lost a spouse, everybody here cares.” The senior center, which has 800 members, celebrated its 33rd birthday last week. Festivities included an open house and luncheon, during which director Sue Franckowiak was presented a Community Builders Award by the Delaware Community Foundation. “Everybody needs a place to go and this is a great place for senior citizens of all ages,” said Franckowiak. “We use the talent and wisdom of seniors from the community to make our center successful.” The senior center first opened in the American Legion log cabin on Front Street. It moved to a facility on High Street, then on Arch Street, before moving into the Western Sussex Boys and Girls Club building on Virginia Avenue in 1998. The center pays rent to the Boys and Girls Club to use the facility daily from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Franckowiak said that about 150 members visit the center every day. Martha Dorman, 90, Seaford, is a charter member of the center. She still visits about three times a week, participating in exercise classes and playing dominoes. “Next to my church, this is the most important thing in my life,” she said.
Kat Friedel, Bridgeville, also attends regularly. A recent widow, she said that the center is a great help to her. “This is my family,” she said. Gladys Jordan, 87, Seaford, visits the center two to three days a week, to play bingo and dominoes, attend exercise classes and eat lunch. The center, which has a full kitchen, serves up to 40 meals every day at the facility and provides about 70 meals to senior citizens who are home-bound. Dolores Wagner, Seaford, counts on members at the center to sign cards she sends to her grandson, Richard Zareo, who is stationed in Iraq. And Bob and Sandra Stuck, looking for a place to retire, choose Seaford in part because of the center. They visit about four days a week, to walk in the gym and to eat lunch, said Bob Stuck, 68. Franckowiak said that the center is always adding new activities. The calendar includes craft classes, acrylic painting, lessons in tai chi, Bible study classes, card parties, computer classes and defensive driving classes. Members meet regularly with representatives of the Seaford Police Department to discuss safety concerns and there are regular trips to the post office and area shopping centers. Members also visit other senior centers and nursing homes. Arrangements can be made for help getting to doctor’s appointments and to pick up prescriptions. The center sponsors picnics in the summer and trips to the pool managed by the Seaford Department of Parks and Recreations. It also sponsors overnight trips; coming up are trips to the Three Little Bakers theater and, in the fall, to Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard. In addition, members can take advantage of programs offering help with tax preparations, legal problems and health insurance problems. Gladys Jackson, 87, Seaford, said that she enjoys her two to three visits to the center a week. “It means that I am not just at home, sitting in one place,” she said. “If this place closed, it would be like a family member died,” said Dorman. “You don’t even want to hear that there is a snow day,” added Turnball. The center follows the school district’s lead in closing for inclimate weather. “If this center closed, it would be life-altering.”

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