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Village elders are older, bolder and full of talent

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Older is bolder in Yellow Springs, thanks to a community where self-expression and creativity don’t wane with age and to a Senior Center that wants to draw on its elder talent.

At the Senior Center’s “Elder Voices Out Loud and Proud” on Friday, July 8, local seniors will entertain with sweet harmonies, spirited monologues and beautiful music for all ages. The event takes place at the Mills Lawn Auditorium, starts at 7 p.m. and is free of charge — a gift to the community for its 52 years of financial support for the Senior Center. Friends Care Community will provide refreshments.

“We have an incredible talent pool — the asset that is our senior community,” said David Scott, executive director of the Senior Center. “This is a demonstration of our ‘older is bolder’ theme, that our seniors are assets we can appreciate and utilize.”

A variety of seasoned performers — including some former professionals — will exercise their talents, according to Joan Horn, who organized the evening’s line-up.

Featured voices are the local troupe The MadriGals (Kitty Jensen, Patty Gehring, Ellen Duell, Martie Jensen, Peg Champney, Heidi Eastman, Cheryl Keen, Lynn Sontag and Hazel Tulecke), a barbershop quintet with Byron Dann, Carl Maneri, Bill Mullins, Ron Siemer and Dave Westneat, and a duet of Barbara Leeds and Jim Felder. Janeal Ravndal, Flo Lorenz, David Lee and Walter Rhodes will read original pieces or speak at the event and the Hatfield Sisters, Shirley and Sharon, will play the violin.

“People were genuinely impressed with the high quality of what was presented,” said Horn of the last such event, which was conceived of and organized by Mary Morgan in 2009 and drew an audience of more than 200 people.

The event also kicks off the Senior Center’s annual fund campaign, during which the Center hopes to raise $50,000 for operating expenses. The Center increased its annual fund goal from $30,000 two years ago and $40,000 last year because the Center keeps exceeding its own fundraising targets and its need for unrestricted funds grows. Its total annual expenses are around $240,000.

According the Scott, demand has been rising for Senior Center services, which include transportation, homemaking, emergency room assistance, healthcare advice, hearing aid assistance and more, and activities like outings, computer instruction, meals, aerobics are becoming more popular as well. And Scott hopes to take the center in new directions in order to broaden its support and meet the intellectual needs of seniors.

“We’re going to do more and more things in the community not seen as serving the very needy,” Scott said, such as providing lecture series and acting as a think-tank where seniors are convened to solve community problems. One issue to tackle is how the town will care for its aging community, he said.

The Senior Center also looks to upgrade its space by moving to a new location in the next couple of years, Scott said. A new or renovated facility will help the center meet the needs of its constituents with more parking, storage, meeting and conference space and a community kitchen.

The center had originally looked at converting its existing location on Xenia Avenue. While the center could double its current space at an estimated cost of $1.2 million, parking would remain limited at the site, Scott said. It has also considered partnering with Miami Township Fire and Rescue, which is looking to build a new fire station, or purchasing the Antioch Inn on Livermore Street from Antioch College. An architectural design studio has been contracted to prepare an initial architectural programming of the new facility.

But before any capital campaign comes this year’s annual fundraising campaign. And before that is a fun and festive evening of elder entertainment as a way for the Senior Center to thank an always-supportive community.

“We want to emphasize that this is a gift to the community,” said Corrine Pelzl, the Center’s Activities Coordinator. “Our community does things that bring out talent and this is one thing that brings out our creativity.”



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