Membership up at the Lincoln Senior Center

Membership up at the Lincoln Senior Center

LINCOLN – The iconic film quote, “if you build it, they will come” has proven true in the case of the Lincoln Senior Center, which has seen exponential growth since the 2010 construction of the new center.

Lois Durkin, who has served as director of senior services since 2003, said the center’s membership numbers were seriously dwindling before the construction of the new location at 150 Jenckes Hill Road. The center’s former location allowed for only a few programs, according to Durkin.

“We were down to a couple of hundred members at the old place. It wasn’t user-friendly at all,” Durkin said. The former senior center was two stories, but wasn’t ADA-accessible, so members had to travel outside in a loop to switch floors, she said.

When a new, 11,000-square-foot center was built next to Lincoln Middle School, Durkin wondered whether staff could fill the massive new space. She didn’t have to worry long. When the center first opened, she quickly realized they’d need to add additional parking spaces to keep up with demand.

Today, the senior center is a bustling hub for those age 55 and older, with multiple activity rooms, an exercise room and a large reception area with a Lincoln limestone fireplace. Durkin said membership has risen to roughly 4,000 members this year.

The cost of membership is $10 for 12 months for Lincoln residents and $15 annually for non-residents. Rhode Island seniors can belong to multiple senior centers simultaneously.

“Some people come in just for the trips,” Durkin said about the center’s day trips to places like Foxwoods Resort Casino, Boston, and the upcoming planned trip to Newport Playhouse. “Some come for the exercise programs. Others come for art. We also have regulars who come in for their daily meal,” Durkin said. Lunch at the center costs $3, and is open to non-members.

Lincoln residents may use the center’s bus for free transportation to and from. While many members are from Rhode Island, Durkin said some people visit from Connecticut “on a regular basis.” In addition, a gentleman from Tiverton makes the trip nearly every day.

“It’s a nice testament for us, that people are willing to travel that far,” Durkin said.

The center’s weekly activity lineups include fitness and dancing classes, arts and crafts instruction, various games, computer and iPad lessons and health workshops. Only a few of the center’s offerings cost an additional couple of dollars, Durkin said, with almost all of the classes and activities offered for free.

“I’m not going to nickel-and-dime a senior. I don’t want to leave anyone out. Some of the seniors are on a limited income,” Durkin said, adding that she doesn’t feel it’s right to limit them further by charging them to participate in activities.

Among new offerings at the center is the Memory Café, open to members and non-members on the last Wednesday of every month. The café is like a support group, Durkin said, where caregivers and individuals living with memory loss can come together to socialize, gather information and participate in therapeutic activities.

The Lincoln Senior Center offers a variety of other resources, including a computer lab and small library. It hosts blood pressure and blood sugar screenings, safe driving courses and other health/safety workshops. The center partners with the William M. Davies Jr. Career & Technical High School to offer an opportunity for cosmetology students to practice hair and nail techniques. In addition, a number of support groups, open to all members of the community, meet regularly at the center, including INSIGHT, Alcoholics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous and an Alzheimer’s support group.

The Friends of the Lincoln Senior Center invites members of the community to visit the center at 150 Jenckes Hill Road on Nov. 17 for its second annual craft fair, held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.