Remodel Gives Senior Center More Room to Grow

Kathy Blash, director of the Londonderry Senior Center, moveda barn-type door on its hinges. “Steve Cotton built this for us,” she said. “It’s made of reclaimed wood from the old kitchen.”

The remodeled Londonderry Senior Center reopened in November. With people living longer and staying active longer, the Center is poised to help Londonderry seniors enjoy more activities, with more space to do them in.

Blash said the effort was overseen by Cotton, who saw to every detail and in cases like the door, took care of it himself.

“We needed to close off the other wing for when we rent it out,” she said. Cotton saw to the door and went the extra mile, Blash said.

She moved down the hall of the new wing, noting the maroon bumpers built into the cream-colored walls. “Steve brought this in so that when we bring out the extra tables, they won’t scrape the paint,” she said.

The reno includes a new women’s bathroom, handicapped-accessible, with two stalls, self-flushing toilets and a hot-air hand dryer.

The new wing extends out the back of the former Mayflower Grange Hall and has a new foundation and completely new construction, she said. A mechanical room holds the electrical equipment along with a new utility sink, washer and dryer. The Senior Center purchased the appliances with its own funds, Blash said. The group uses cloth tablecloths for its bigger events, and before, she and some members would split the chore of washing them at home. “We’d say, ‘I’ll take 10, you take 10,” Blash recalled. Now they can do it on-site and save time.

She shared an office with some other staff members and now has a larger office in the new wing, she said, opening the door on a room that still smelled of new paint. “We are still waiting for the wiring,” she said. While Blash has an open-door policy, having her own space will make it easier to work on budgets and other things that require concentration, she said.

There is a separate room for the many health clinics the Center hosts. It has its own sink, good for sanitary reasons, and a door that shuts, good for privacy and HIPPA issues. “When we’re not having a clinic, this doubles as our poker room,” she said with a smile.

Another room has been designated a game room, with four tables set up for Mah Jonng and other games. It’s also the room for “chair exercises,” and a large cabinet hides a new flat-screen TV to be used to guide the exercisers.

The facility now has a designated room for craft and art projects, and art instructor Jan McLaughlin was checking the status of some jars of paint. She teaches everything from pastels to acrylics to Christmas crafts, McLaughlin said, and was working on a design for a wine-stopper ornament.

“It is so nice to be able to have space,” McLaughlin said of her new digs. “We used to have to wait until after lunch was served to do an art class.” Her students could be distracted, she said, with people chattering at the tables behind them or card games going on.

And they could also distract, McLaughlin said. “One time we had a craft that we had to pound with a hammer,” she said. “People were behind us doing Tai Chi.”

McLaughlin is also happy about designated storage for her craft supplies, she said.

Blash is especially happy about the kitchen, which has doubled in size from the old one. “We gutted this room down to the beams,” she said. While the Center kept its stove and two fridges, there are brand-new cabinets and counters, including a center island with two electric warming trays built in. “We used to use a Sterno can,” she said, adding, “That’s dangerous.”

She and her core group moved items back from their temporary home at the Lions Hall in early November, and opened for a full schedule Nov. 7. They’re still trying to find things, she said. “We ask each other, ‘Where did we put the plastic wrap?'” But it’s a good problem to have.

The new kitchen had its inaugural event with the annual Senior Luncheon catered by the Fire Department, Blash said. The firemen were impressed with the changes.

Blash has been working on the Center’s physical appearance¬†since she arrived three years ago. The first thing to go were some really ugly curtains, and Center member Virginia Enos sewed new ones.

The seniors love the new space, Blash said. “Our membership has grown. Everyone is so happy with it.”

In the addition, tall 16-paned windows let in the light from North Londonderry. “These rooms are bright even on gloomy days,” Blash observed. She’s hoping that will extend to the seniors she serves.

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