By Jill Nagy
Area senior centers are open and busy as COVID-19 safety guidelines eased up . Members are returning for exercise classes, meals, games, trips, and, most of all, the chance to socialize after over a year of isolation, officials say.
At the Queensbury Senior Center, there is a waiting list for some classes and others are full. Seniors at the Glens Falls Senior Center had their first trip of the season, to a youth theater performance at Lake George, at the beginning of August, but as a precaution, only six passengers were allowed in a 12-passenger van
At the Clifton Park Senior Community Center, dances are back but live music will have to wait until September, officials said. At the Saratoga Senior Center, art classes art full and demand is great for exercise classes and anything including food, especially Friday barbecues in the tents behind the building.
. On the whole, center directors report a slow but steady return of their members and attendance at about half the volume they were used to before the pandemic. Saratoga, for example, hosts about 70 seniors a day, compared to 130-150 a day before the height of the pandemic. But, according to director Lois Celeste, “each month, we keep adding.”
The centers never completely closed during the pandemic. They provided take-out meals and delivered groceries and medications; conducted online and outdoor programs; and made an effort to keep in touch with members. On the whole, staff worked from home and no one had to be laid off.
The Queensbury center bills itself as “Seniors on the Go.” The facility normally has a robust travel schedule, including overseas trips, said Stephanie Smith, the development coordinator, who is acting director while the center looks for a replacement for Michele Whitbeck.