MONROE – For the past 42 years, the Ellen Fitzgerald Senior Center has been helping seniors age and live well with a variety of activities designed to keep them active and engaged in the community.
The center, which was built in 1977 in historic downtown at 327 S. Hayne St., is available for seniors 55 and older and has everything under the sun to offer those looking for interaction, networking or activities.
Its mission is to provide a focal point to enhance and support independence and dignity, as well as encourage seniors’ involvement in the community. And it does that job very well, but be warned that all the center offers may take some time to sink in.
On Thursday afternoons, for example, the Ellen Fitzgerald Senior Center is filled with the melodies of the Senior Center Singers practicing harmoniously in the background. That group performs at nursing homes and other functions around Union County.
But on that particular day, there were classes for woodworking, ceramics, jigsaw and word puzzles, a walking club, pickleball games, line dancing, quilting and the popular card game Canasta sprinkled in throughout the morning and early afternoon.
The next day, the schedule was much different and included activities such as range-of-motion fitness classes, aerobic exercise, bowling, Euchre, cornhole and yoga.
Class sizes vary by the day, and new members and guests are always welcome.
“Our most popular classes are definitely exercise,” said the center’s director Colleen Puceta. “Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays we have a range-of-motion class at 9. At 10 is a standing aerobics class and 11 is a yoga class on the mat and on the floor. Tuesdays we have a seated chair yoga class that has really picked up a lot of attention and attendees here of late. Canasta is big. Bridge and all of the card games are also very popular.
“But we have everything from golf, pickleball, dancing and table tennis. It’s a broad mix of different activities for sure.”
Puceta has been at the center for about a year and is getting to know most of the regulars. She said some will come to multiple classes during the day or certainly come to several classes throughout the week. But, she said, everyone can find something to do at center, which also has a clay and pottery studio for those interested in ceramics or woodworking.
So no matter what gets seniors to the center in the first place, they always have a good time and come back another day.
“We have a lot of people who come in from Indian Trail, Waxhaw and we have a lot of people who come in from the city as well,” Puceta said. “It’s a mix of single and married people, but we also see neighbors that invite each other when they come here and see all that is here.”
Monroe residents aged 55 and over can join the center at no cost, and the vast majority of the classes will not accrue additional fees, although there are extra charges for some off-site activities, including bowling and golf. Non-Monroe residents will pay just $60 for an individual and $90 per couple in yearly dues.
In addition to the card games, classes and other activities, the center offers caregiver and other support groups including diabetes, visually impaired and AARP members. It also offers free blood pressure checks, truly making the Ellen Fitzgerald Senior Center a one-stop shop for seniors looking to keep active.
“We have support groups and educational programs as well, but I think one of the main things is the socialization,” Puceta said. “Just being out is good and we have pottery, ceramics, woodworking, to singing and playing cards, so that’s one key thing. Everyone can enjoy themselves.
“There is really an activity for everyone here. It’s a great resource for seniors.”