In a time of economic cutbacks, the Thomson-McDuffie Senior Center recently received good news to the tune of $395,209. McDuffie County was one of 23 Georgia communities awarded a stimulus-funded State Community Development Block Grant in mid-August.
"I'm just so excited we were awarded that grant so we get to serve more people," Senior Center Superintendent Merlinda Hill said.
McDuffie County Commission Chairman Charlie Newton said some of the funds will be used to do much-needed renovation work on the Senior Center, such as repairing leaks and floors and making bathrooms handicap accessible.
But the most-noticed benefit will be an addition to the back of the building.
"The bad thing is they really won't have a courtyard anymore, because it'll be a building, instead," Mr. Newton said. "But the good news is, they'll have additional space."
Ms. Hill said she hasn't seen the plans yet, but she is hoping for a larger exercise room with more equipment, because what they have now is so well-used.
Mr. Newton said the extra space will ultimately add more services to what the Senior Center already offers. Adult Daycare services will utilize part of the new space. The daycare service will be contracted through Claire Russell, who runs The Home Place in Thomson. The adult daycare at the senior center will allow more service to more people, Mr. Newton said.
"Because if you do in-home service like they have now, then you've got one nurse with one client. But if you can come into a group setting, then you've got one nurse and several clients," Mr. Newton said, adding that the group setting will get the shut-ins out of their secluded environment and put them in a social environment.
Because the daycare will be staffed with full-time nurses, the seniors who already attend the center will benefit, too.
"What that means is they will see visual signs of health problems, such as a consistently red face or swollen extremities," Mr. Newton said. "The folks in there will get a daily once-over with the eyes, so to speak, to head off any potential major problems that may be out there."
The Thomson-McDuffie Senior Center currently has approximately 200 members, with 50-60 there every day. Weekly activities include ceramics, crafts, art, computer and exercise classes, workshops, line dancing, choir, Bingo and Wii bowling. The center also has exercise equipment and a pool table, air hockey table, skee-ball machine, checkers and dart boards.
The grant is coming from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development under the State Community Development Block Grant Recovery Act program. All projects under the grant will serve Georgia citizens through permanent or temporary job creation.
Eliza Cody enjoys the shade in the courtyard behind the Senior Center. A grant-funded room addition to the center will replace the courtyard.