By Nicole Hennessy
At the end of June, North Olmsted’s senior center endured two days of flooding – water that penetrated the roof during the process of being redone, pooling on the floor for two days.
Luckily, the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) offered through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which made the initial roof repairs possible, covered the damage as well, resulting in more renovation than anyone prepared for.
The center’s administrator, Jackie Chavez-Anderson, walked through the newly remodeled rooms, pointing out the improvements.
Where old suspended ceilings were, there are now textured ceilings accented by existing skylights, and smaller features that still make a big difference, like a freshly painted wall in one of the largest common areas.
After the two days of incessant rain in June, Chavez-Anderson estimates that more than 30 gallons of water had to be removed.
“Tiles were just disintegrating,” she said. “So we (also) got new carpeting.”
After all the repairs, including new insulation (she estimates the total cost at around $150,000) the renovation period lasted six months, ending just before the holidays in early December.
The senior center does offer a Meals On Wheels program, as well as an in-house $1 lunch program, neither of which were affected by the renovations. Programs that were affected included the art league, movies, Wii play, the computer lab and bingo, all of which have resumed.
Looking forward to showing off the new center at a tentatively scheduled Feb. 27 grand reopening, Chavez-Anderson said there are always extra spots open for the $1 lunch program, also made available through a grant.
In the Westshore area, North Olmsted and Fairview Park have the only two senior centers with this type of in-house lunch program.
Those interested can sign up, and then receive hot lunches two days per week for a suggested donation of $1 per meal.
Participants do not have to be from North Olmsted; anyone is eligible as long as they are at least 60 years old.
“We get people from all over,” Chavez-Anderson said. “We get people from Lorain County, even.”
Lynda Hudson, the senior center’s nutrition program coordinator, said currently the center has the capacity to serve 70 seniors per meal, and generally sees 55 or 60 come through the doors. She also encouraged anyone interested to contact the center and sign up.
Back in the lounge area Chavez-Anderson, glad to be back to a normal routine, said everything with the storm damage worked out for the best.
Looking forward to sharing the upgraded senior center with community members in February and reminding them of all the programs offered, she said, “What we ended up with is a nicer center.”
“Now the seniors get a beautiful, basically brand-new facility. I don’t think it could have ended any better.”