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Gering Senior Center marks 35 years of service: Open house planned for March 19
March 13, 2014 Jerry Purvis   

Read more by Jerry Purvis

Courtesy Photos - Since 1978, friends have gathered for meals, activities and fellowship at the Gering Senior Center. Many ladies clubs have met at the center to sew, crochet, and assemble craft and gift items as seen in the above photo from the 1980­s. Holiday parties have always been popular, with couples and friends dressing up for Halloween, exchanging Christmas gifts or ushering in the New Year. At right, Raggedy Ann and Andy make an appearance during a Halloween party in 1986. Guests are invited to celebrate their memories at the public Open House March 19.

On March 22, 1978, the Gering Senior Center opened its doors to the public and has served the community for the past 35 years. An open house is scheduled from 12:30 – 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 19 to help celebrate the event.

Gering seniors broke ground on the new center on Sept. 15, 1977, on the location of the former Gering swimming pool. Construction costs totaled $54,000 and the city gave them a 99-year lease on the property.

The center’s original board members were Chairman Byron Brogan, Louise Lambert, Emma and George Heimbuck, Clara Price, Ruth M. Garner, Ken and Helen Reese, Norman and Sharon Demott, and John and Arlene McLellan. The first site manager was Lydia Batt.

“The original purpose of the senior centers was for nutrition,” said current board member Don Roth. “The Aging Office realized that many seniors weren’t getting nutritional meals, so they addressed that need. With so many seniors on Social Security, they wanted to provide meals at a reasonable cost.”

The Aging Office of Western Nebraska is the sponsoring agency behind all 35 senior centers around the Panhandle. When the center opened in Gering in 1978, the cost of a meal was 50 cents. Today, it’s $3.35, but is also available for delivery to shut-ins in Gering, Minatare and Melbeta for $3.45. A dietician from the Aging Office plans the meal menu every quarter, outlining what’s for lunch at the senior centers.

Over the years, as people came to the center for lunch, numerous activities were added to provide a place where seniors could gather socially. Today, card games of pitch, pinochle and pegs are usually going on in the mornings. Seniors can also be found playing dominoes, assembling puzzles or shooting pool. And bingo is scheduled for Thursdays.

Senior Center members also collect Fresh Foods receipts, send cards for birthdays, sympathy and get well occasions, decorate a Christmas tree and exchange gifts.

The Senior Center has also hosted line dancing and on Wednesday evenings, local musicians provide the music for dance nights.

The Aging Office provides information through the senior centers regarding things like changes in Medicare and Medicaid, insurance and other topics that are pertinent to seniors.

Roth said there are times when a registered pharmacist comes to the center and seniors can bring in their medications and receive helpful information. And the nurses of Heritage Estates have come in to provide blood pressure readings.

The current site manager is Eva Ramirez, who took over from Margaurette Neumann after she decided to retire from 20-plus service as manager of the site.

The current board of directors include Chairman Robert Prester, Don Roth, Charley Matthaei, Don Brown, Joyce Kautz, Richard Benker, Verlie Wagoner and Kenneth Clarke.

The Gering Senior Center, 2005 Depot St., invites the public to join them during their open house as they prepare to serve the community for another 35 years and beyond.
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