CONWAY — The Conway Senior Wellness and Activity Center opened at its new location Wednesday with almost double the number of senior citizens as usual eating lunch in the bigger facility.
“It went great; we probably served about 140 for lunch,” said Debra Robinson, director. “Normal is 80, maybe. Then, we had a lot of people come in who did not eat, who just wanted to look around. We had people coming in at 4:30, still.”
The senior program launched a $2.2 million capital campaign in 2013 to buy the 18,750-square-foot former Agora Conference & Special Events Center at 705 E. Siebenmorgen Road in Conway. The center was renovated to tailor it for the senior program.
Since 1980, the senior program had been in a 9,000-square-foot former church at 1620 Donaghey Ave., which was too cramped for the program’s many activities, Robinson said.
“Everything was really going on today,” Robinson said Wednesday. Activities and classes underway in the spacious new location included art, beanbag baseball, music and more.
“Wait till you see this,” Robinson said as she showed off the workout room with all-new equipment, including treadmills and elliptical machines. She pointed out one exercise chair that is designed to accommodate seniors with physical limitations.
“They loved it,” she said of the seniors.
Joye Scroggin, 75, of Conway said she is impressed with the new facility.
“It’s wonderful; it’s just a dream come true,” Scroggin said. “It’s an improvement on everything — more room, more one-on-one.”
She is especially excited about the new workout room.
“I am very big into the exercise program for seniors,” she said Thursday. “I came over today to walk and try it out.”
Sherri Lachowsky was hired as a part-time instructor for the activity program, Robinson said.
Robinson said the seniors gave feedback on the building.
“They always have a few suggestions. We listened a little bit,” she said. “They’re getting adjusted.”
Conway’s population, which is estimated at 62,000, is projected to be 100,000 in 2023, Robinson said.
Of those, it’s projected that 25,000 will be seniors, she said.
Robinson said her goal is to be prepared for the future and the baby boomers.
Scroggin said she believes the program will grow in the new location.
“It is just beautiful, and there are a lot of senior-living apartments around here, and I think there will be a lot more people. When they see what all it offers, I think we’re going to get a lot more people,” she said.
Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 firstname.lastname@example.org.