Senior programs thrive at Ela Township Community Center
Connie Belio laughs as she leads an exercise class Jan. 4 at the Ela Township Community Center. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 11, 2013 6:46AM
LAKE ZURICH — Since the Ela Township Community Center opened in the old post office building on Surryse Road, its programs and participation have multiplied.
In addition to the extra space, the center’s senior programming also has been boosted by the newly constructed Zurich Meadows senior living facility, located within walking distance.
“We’re able to do more programs and accommodate more people in each of those programs,” reported Susan Dillon, Ela Township’s director of adult and senior services. “It’s wonderful to be able to help them at this time in their lives.”
The center previously operated out of a one-room facility in the Foglia YMCA. Since moving into the 2,000-square-foot post office building, programs and participation have grown. Focused on senior programming, Dillon highlighted its popular day trips to places like the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire and in-house exercise classes.
“Some of the programs gaining popularity are our yoga classes and craft classes,” said Dillon.
The Sit and Be Fit exercise class, which provides a light exercise three times a week, is one of the most popular programs, she noted.
“They have something for everybody,” said Lake Zurich resident Shirley Hunt, who comes to the center often. “You can be busy every day of the week if you want.”
Helen Messerschmidt, who lives in the nearby Zurich Meadows, said she takes advantage of exercise classes as well as a writers group and a book club. She described Zurich Meadows as a friendly, social place that allows her to be active.
“We are social people,” she said of her fellow Zurich Meadows residents. “We interact and share stories and give advice.”
With the recent growth, Dillon said the center also has changed the nature of some of its programming. For example, she said, the center has incorporated more day trips that involve lots of walking, appealing to younger seniors.
“We try to balance it out,” she said.
As for the exercise classes, Dillon said, it used to be mostly younger seniors, but that is changing, too.
“Now the word has spread and we’re seeing some of our older seniors there,” she said.
Other new programs and events added over the last two years include potluck meals, free diabetes screenings and intergenerational programs.
“We try to make things fun and also affordable,” she said.
Ela Township Supervisor Lucy Prouty explained the decision was made two years ago to move the community center into the old post office building.
“They wanted to build a shooting range, but the village voted it down,” she said, explaining that it dawned on her that it might make a good home for the center, especially with the Zurich Meadows under construction at the time.
“It just made it closer and more convenient,” she said.
Yolanda Strutzel, who volunteers at the front desk at the community center and lives in nearby Wicklow Village, said she also participates in as many programs and outings as she can.
“I come here as often as I can because it has truly changed my life,” she said. “Today, I’m going to start tap dancing lessons.”