Area seniors, City officials and representatives from the Area Agency on Aging celebrated the official opening of the new Joplin Senior Center at an Open House and Ribbon Cutting ceremony today.
The crowd attending had plenty of room in the 14,400 square foot center, which provides about a third larger space than the previous 9,000 square foot center. This facility has a larger kitchen and prep area, a designated room for exercise classes, a computer lab, reading area, a billiards room, and a private area for health and wellness checks and counseling. It also serves as a stop for the Sunshine Lamp Trolley.
“This is a great location next to Mercy Park,” said Patty Heagel, Assistant Director of Planning, Development and Neighborhood Services. “Just the view puts a smile on their faces, and the park’s walking trail has a path leading to the center’s door. It will be really convenient for seniors wanting to get outside or to take a walk before or after lunch or other activities.”
The center offers a low-cost meal for citizens age 60 and up Monday through Friday. Center staff also prepare the meals for delivery to homebound seniors offered through the Area Agency on Aging.
“We had outgrown the previous facility,” said Stan Heater, Chief Executive Officer of AAA. “This center gives room for an efficient traffic flow that helps our staff and volunteers providing this service to the community. Plus, there’s more space for other services our seniors enjoy.”
Last fiscal year, which ended in June 2018, the center provided 17,560 meals to senior citizens at the center, and 54,690 homebound meals were prepared for the Meals on Wheels program. The new center’s dining area accommodates about 200 people, including some outdoor seating.
“There’s been a lot of work put into this project,” he noted. “We really appreciate everyone involved that has been part of the planning and construction efforts. We now have a beautiful, spacious center that can accommodate the many functions that our seniors have requested and used throughout the years.”
The previous center at 22nd and Jackson Avenue received structural damage during the May 2011 tornado. Funds from the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program were used to build the center. The grant is offered through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“This program focuses on rebuilding communities after disasters, and this center is just one of the projects that’s been achieved with this grant,” said Heagel. “We appreciate HUD and their support of Joplin’s recovery. We also thank and recognize Mercy for their donation of the property within a centrally located area that is convenient for retired citizens and seniors.”
Bates Architects, Rogers, Ark., served as the architect and R.E. Smith Construction, Joplin, was the contractor for the project. Guidehouse (aka PricewaterhouseCoopers Public Sector) and Viriya Consulting, LLC provided management and oversight of this facility from the onset of the development.
“The location, appearance and the many services offered here are a wonderful resource for our seniors,” said Joplin Mayor Gary Shaw. “The team focused on not only providing a beautiful center but also one that will serve this community for a number of years. We’re pleased that so many are already enjoying it and invite others to come and experience this place while benefitting from the various services offered here.”
The Joplin Senior Center, 2616 Picher Avenue, is open from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.