Feel young at the Columbiana Senior Center

Published 10:04 am Thursday, March 3, 2016

Area seniors enjoy a game of cards at the Columbiana Senior Center. (Contributed)

Area seniors enjoy a game of cards at the Columbiana Senior Center. (Contributed)

By JENNIFER MAIER / Community Columnist

Tai Chi, knitting, quilting and line dancing are just a few of the activities area seniors can participate in at the Columbiana Senior Center.

The relatively new facility is under the direction of Ali Payne, who has a clear vision for the direction the center will go.

“When I was first hired I developed a survey and it really helped, especially in the beginning stages of planning activities and programs,” said Payne, who has a degree in social work from the University of Montevallo.

Based on the suggestions of the community Payne has implemented programming that has something to offer just about anyone.

“If someone comes to me and they say they want to try a new class or activity, I do everything I can to make it happen. My philosophy is we will try anything,” said Payne.

And it appears her willingness to listen to what people want is paying off.

As of January a total of 579 seniors have come through the doors, serving an average of about 34 seniors a day.

But on Mondays and Wednesdays, which are the busiest days, the center may see as many as 50 seniors.

Programs can provide entertainment, but they also provide other benefits as well.

Tai Chi, for example, is an ancient Chinese tradition that also happens to be a great form of exercise.

“It involves a series of slow, focused movements and deep breathing. Tai Chi is very low impact and puts minimal stress on muscles and joints,” said Payne. “It is an excellent exercise and perfect for those who may experience joint or balance problems.”

Meals are also served daily at 11:30 a.m. for those over the age of 60 as part of a nutrition program provided by the Middle Alabama Area Agency on Aging. There is a $2 donation for lunch.

Over time Payne plans on adding new programming such as modified yoga classes and more educational workshops.

Volunteers are instrumental in making the center an enjoyable place for seniors to spend their time.

Classes are taught by several Columbiana residents who willingly give their time to pass along their knowledge.

“Julie Ellis is teaching knitting and has created a great little network of knitters. Sarah Atchison has taken on the responsibility of teaching and running our sewing room,” said Payne. “She has stocked our sewing room with supplies and fabric from her own stash. Every sewer knows that is a big deal.”

Atchison is selling raffle tickets for a beautiful quilt she made, and all proceeds will go toward purchasing supplies for the sewing room. Individual tickets are $2, three tickets for $5, or seven tickets for $10.

Donations of items such as office supplies, playing cards, games, puzzles, fabric and notions as well as pre-packaged snacks are always appreciated.

Payne hopes that the community will realize that the center is a vibrant and positive place for seniors to spend their time.

“I want to spread the word that this is not your grandma’s senior center,” said Payne. “We have a lot of fun. My goal is to provide opportunities that keep people feeling young.”

The senior center is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Anyone interested in helping can contact Payne at 669-4899 or at apayne@cityofcolumbiana.com.