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‘Looking forward to starting back up again’

Senior Social Center returns sense of normalcy to seniors

A senior citizen looks down at his cards while playing pinochle Tuesday morning in the new Senior Social Center.
Joshua Carney / Craig Press

When the new Senior Social Center at the Moffat County Visitors Center opened up in early July, there was a sense of joy, not only for a new home, but for the interpersonal interactions the new center would bring back for the senior community.

Something was missing though.

That something was the senior group of pinochle players, which returned to the center Tuesday after a long hiatus due to the novel coronavirus.

Pinochle, also called pinocle or penuchle, is a trick-taking, Ace-Ten card game typically for two to four players and played with a 48-card deck. It is derived from the card game bezique; players score points by trick-taking and also by forming combinations of cards into melds.

Some 15 card players sat around tables inside the Senior Social Center Tuesday morning drinking coffee and shooting the breeze while locked into their weekly card games, all while sporting masks and rubber gloves to protect themselves from the virus.

That face-to-face interaction is something that’s been dearly missing, according to Kathy Shea.

“They’ve been champing at the bit to get back together again,” Shea said. “We get the physical part of this, but let me tell you: the mental health issues of isolation and these people not being able to contact each other has been huge.”

With the pinochle players back in the mix, a sense of normalcy — as much as possible during these times — has returned to the Senior Social Center. That includes Coffee and Conversation, board games, puzzle building, a book club, art classes and even yoga and other physical fitness programs within the center.

While the center has been open for smaller gatherings since moving into the new location at the Yampa Building, the Senior Social Center was in a bit of a holding pattern when it came to larger groups due to the mitigation plan it had submitted for its vulnerable population.

Once that was cleared though, it became business as usual for the center, with precautions.

With a new location and a return to some normalcy, the center is looking to celebrate later this month with lawn games and food trucks for its members.

Plus, the center is looking to push for more members now that the new center is easily accessible for the senior community in the heart of downtown Craig.

“People comment that they love the new location because its easy to access,” Delaine Voloshin said. “Here, there’s ample parking, it’s easy to get to and you can just walk right in.”

“I love being here; we’re settled,” Shea said. “Change is not always good for our demographic, but we landed here and took a lot of shuffling around and figuring out how to utilize this space.”

“The important thing to point out is that we’re utilizing an important space in a historic building,” Senior Social Center President Louis Wymore added. “For a lot of our members, they went to school in this building, and some even learned right here in this space.

“The mission of the Yampa Building is to build our community, so what better people to use this space than this group? We’re the older generation; we’ve helped build this community.”

While COVID-19 wiped out a number of events the Senior Social Center had planned for 2020, Shea says the center is excited to start back up again and give its seniors something to look forward to through the rest of the year.

“We’re really looking forward to starting back up again, starting with the games on the lawn event,” Shea said. “Hopefully that drives seniors back to us here in town. Plus, we have a tie-dye even scheduled for late September. We’re looking forward to that and making sure we’re keeping everybody safe.”

For more information about the new Senior Social Center, visit the center’s Facebook page at Facebook.com/seniorsocialcenter.


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