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Flood damage won’t wash out senior center programs

By Sue Botos

Rocky River

“The show must go on” has become the mantra of Rocky River Senior Center activities Director Laurie Schaefer.

“This is our new motto,” Schaefer stated during a recent interview. She emphasized that even though the center was severely damaged by water after a sprinkler system pipe broke during the early January deep freeze, most programs will continue as planned, but at different locations.

Schaefer said that yoga, tai chi and other fitness classes will move to the Rocky River Civic Center community room, as will art instruction. Others will be held in center classrooms. Rocky River United Methodist Church on Detroit Road offered its Beacon Hall for dance and fitness classes requiring more room.

“Wherever I can put people, I will put them,” Schaefer said, adding that the senior center computer room survived unscathed, and will house regular classes and some discussion groups. Wii bowling will meet near the front desk, which will remain open, as will the center gift shop. The senior transportation service will also continue.

Other programs, such as the deli lunch, have been put on hold, according to Schaefer. “The kitchen is fine, but we have nowhere to seat people,” she said. In addition, the kickoff of the center’s SilverSneakers offerings has been delayed.

Despite fans drying out carpeting and chairs piled up in the building atrium, the first STARRS (Second Thursday At Rocky River Senior Center) program of the year, featuring a talk on the history of the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo by former Director Steve Taylor, went on as planned in the auditorium.

According to safety-service Director Mary Kay Costello, a sprinkler pipe in the ceiling over the center dining area, next to a window overlooking the garden, burst on the evening of Jan. 7. She said that most damage was done to carpeting, walls and the auditorium stage floor. Before a repair estimate can be calculated, Costello said the center must be completely dry, and any danger of mold growth removed.

“This may be a blessing in disguise. We wouldn’t have gotten new carpeting otherwise,” quipped the upbeat Schaefer. She noted that the craft room was hit the hardest; however, the supply closet remained dry.

Mayor Pam Bobst noted that when she inspected the center after the flooding, it was easy to spot the low points in the floor, which were puddled with water.

Costello said that “optimistically” the center will be completely open in about a month. Schaefer is taking no chances, however, scheduling the annual February volunteer appreciation lunch for the civic center.

Having begun her work at the senior center as a teenage volunteer, Schaefer compared the current situation with the earlier days of senior services, when programs were at various locations throughout the city. “If this is our biggest glitch, it will be a snap,” she predicted.

Schaefer praised volunteers who have logged hours on the phone, alerting seniors about the latest news. Above all, she urged residents to call the senior center front desk at 440-333-6660 or her line at 440-331-1114 with any questions regarding the location of a program.




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