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Senior center strapped

| November 9, 2010 8:00 PM

If things don't change, Wade Toombs has just one more year. One year to find words to describe what the Lake City Senior Center means to him before they have to sell the place.

"How do you put the joy I feel into words?" Toombs reluctantly responded when asked for a quote. If they don't break even next year, the doors will close.

The enduring center has been put to pasture before. What began as a Meals on Wheels program in 1971 found its bricks and mortar in 1973 at a former livery stable. The animal theme persisted; live chickens were among early donations. A fire destroyed the original building, but it was rebuilt in 1988.

They do a lot more than food. For card sharks there is bridge on Mondays (plus Bingo at 5:30 p.m.), canasta on Wednesdays, and pinochle Tuesdays and Fridays. The creative types do china and watercolor painting, quilting, and knitting. I'd go for the clogging or tap dancing. Whatever the excuse, the biggest benefit is socialization - friendship.

Beyond fun and games the senior center tackles the more practical. Blood pressure checks, AARP tax help, Parkinson's and MS support groups address some of life's challenges. Of course volunteers and "prince of a cook" Willie Crotsley still serve meals, both to home-bound seniors and at the center.

It's all free, but not without cost.

"Donations are down severely and the renting of our facility has decreased with more competition than ever before in the area," said Vickie Harrison, Lake City Senior Center manager, who says past and continuing supporters feel like family.

Harrison and her board are looking for money (state meal reimbursement, for example, is half of actual cost), but they need people too. People to join (register through the Area Agency on Aging), to volunteer (help with meals, events), and to support (attend events, rent the hall, donations, and endowments/bequests). Contact Vickie or Jessica (208) 667-4628 or cdaseniors@yahoo.com.

Balance demands its counterweight. As time goes by, we get better at living. Meanwhile fruits of those efforts get heavier on the vine, forcing the realization that no one, no matter how adept, gets by without help.

Senior centers are the fulcrum of a community's balance of help against self-sufficiency. Let's keep the Lake City's open.

Sholeh Patrick is a columnist for the Hagadone News Network who just bought her first pair of reading glasses. E-mail sholehjo@hotmail.com and I'll put on my specs.

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