The Washington Senior Center membership has been declining.

Executive Director Cheri Randall used to have hundreds of senior citizens spending their days at the center at 69 W. Maiden St., but recently that membership has dwindled to 60 people a day.

“We hear a lot of people who are around 85 or 90 say ‘We don’t want to be around those old people,’” Randall said. “But we’re not a nursing home, and I think a lot of people think that, but we’re a very active group of people and we just want to have fun.”

The center is open five days a week and offers a variety of classes for senior citizens. A low-impact workout called “Silver Sneakers” is offered Monday, Thursday and Friday morning. It includes range of motion and muscle strengthening, cardio and yoga.

Other activities include dartball, similar to baseball but using darts, Euchre, Bible study, card club, pool, and a Wii is available for play. T’ai Chi is on Monday mornings, for a fee of $5 per class. Computer classes are also available for a fee.

Twila Knotts of North Strabane Township has been going to the center for 25 years.

“I’ve met all of my friends here,” Knotts said. “I come every day. I love it.”

Randall said a lot of seniors struggle with loneliness.

“Many struggle with being lonely, and we can help with that,” Randall said. “It’s better to come here and make friends who share common interests than sitting at home staring at the four walls or the television.”

Randall hopes to see membership pick back up to 300 people.

“When I first started we had 300 members. I would like to get back there,” Randall said. “I know times can be hard that some people are still having to work or take care of grandchildren, but even seeing someone new come once a week is great to have.”

Member fees are $4 a year. Everyone over 60 is welcome. Lunch is offered for free, but donations of $2 are accepted.

Staff writer

Adrianne Uphold is a senior at West Virginia University. Before joining the Observer-Reporter as the summer intern, she was the managing editor at WVU's student newspaper, The Daily Athenaeum. Adrianne also reported for WAJR Radio and Metro News.

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