Horry County Council on Aging developing plans for new senior center in Carolina Forest

Every Monday and Thursday, Virginia Burns scours her BINGO card for that magical line of letters and numbers. The 92-year-old sits at a table with three other nonagenarians, each hoping to break the silence by announcing the two syllables of victory. Over the last three years, Burns has noticed she’s had some more competition showing up to BINGO at the Carolina Forest Senior Center, a tiny annex in a Gateway Drive shopping center. That’s why she’s excited about the possibility of a new, larger center being built on Carolina Forest Boulevard. “It would be wonderful,” Burns said. “We seem to be getting more new people every day.” Horry County officials and the Council on Aging have begun ironing out plans for a 5,000-square-foot facility beside the recreation center on Carolina Forest Boulevard. Both groups say the center has outgrown the rental property and needs a larger space. Although the proposal is in its fledgling stage, the county has proposed providing land for the center, with the Council on Aging spending $500,000-$600,000 to construct it. Officials went over the details at a meeting on Friday. “It’s a great marriage,” said Horry County Councilman Johnny Vaught, who has been working on the project for about three months. “It gives seniors access to the gym and the library, which the seniors like. … Plus, we’ll be able to use the senior center if we need to for special events and that kind of thing.” When the Council on Aging began leasing the Gateway Drive space several years ago, the agency’s leaders knew the site was only a temporary measure. Ray Fontaine, the council’s executive director, lives in Carolina Forest and has watched the community swell into a hub of some 30,000 residents. “It’s just booming,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of seniors that I know we’ll be able to serve if we have a facility that’s adequate to take care of those needs.” Mary Case, the current center’s manager, said the need for a larger building is obvious, particularly in the wintertime when snowbirds descend on the community. “This one is not big at all,” she said of the center. “We’re going to grow. There are just so many people moving down.” Tina Gulino, 92, is one of those who migrated South. Originally from Queens, New York, she’s lived in Carolina Forest for almost nine years and drives herself to the senior center nearly every day. And while the organization offers excursions, exercise and, of course, Bingo, the variety of the crowd is what appeals to her. “Because we come from all over,” she said. “We come from almost every state in the USA.” Should the plans for the new center materialize, Vaught said he’d like the see the facility constructed within a year. However, he cautioned that there are still some design hurdles, including having an architect draw up plans and finding a simple, legal way to allow the council to build on the property. “There’s not going to be a hold-up from the county once they come up with what they want to do,” the councilman said. “Then it’s just up to them to arrange their financing.” Fontaine said he plans to fund the center with a combination of grants and in-house funding. He pointed out that the council already spends $1,500 each month to rent the Gateway Drive site. “It requires a lot of pieces to a puzzle,” he said of the project. “But I can say this … with the way the conversation went around the table at that meeting with the council people, I really have not felt more confident about a project.” If the center is built, it wouldn’t be the largest in the county. The Grand Strand Senior Center is about 14,500 square feet. Conway’s is 6,800. Burns would be content just having a little more space. She’s already a fan of the center’s work. “We do so much,” the New York transplant said. “They keep us busy. We go places. Do things. We’re active.” She’s a regular at the Carolina Forest center, and she has her priorities. “I come every day,” Burns said. “But Bingo is Monday and Thursday.”   View original article
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Grand Strand Senior Center and HCCOA – Coastal Carolinas Senior Living Advisor

Jeanie Rhodes, the Manager of the Grand Strand Senior Center, keeps people active! Jeanie’s background illustrates the passion she has for people. She has served as a middle and high school teacher, secretary, Downtown Revitalization Director and as an instructor for adults who never finished high school. She has a contagious smile…when you walk out of her office your face will hurt from smiling and laughing. Jeanie’s right hand support, Ruth Loughlin, sums up a day at the Senior Center; “you have to have a sense of humor to work here”, she said. It is obvious that they enjoy what they do. Jeanie gave me a brief overview of some of the Senior Center’s many activities and events. They include crafts, card games, yoga, dancing and local, out of state and international trips. They also offer various support groups to attend, including bereavement, loss/transition, those with macular degeneration and many more. There are so many activities, events, classes and clubs available to choose from that it is impossible to mention them all. You can access additional information and their newsletter at: www.grandstrandseniorcenter.org And at the incredibly low price of only $20 per year, you definitely want to join the Senior Center. It is a great way to stay young and active, so stop by and check it out. Bet you will leave with a smile on your face! You know that the Senior Center is all about fun and games…but there is so much more to the story…Laura Paige Cason, the Marketing Coordinator, covered some of the more serious subjects. Most people are unaware that the Senior Center is a part of the Horry County Council on Aging (HCCOA). The HCCOA provides services to seniors that allows them the opportunity to remain in their home. The HCCOA offers home delivered meals to seniors who are unable to drive, home maker services to those in need and telephone reassurance to make sure seniors who are homebound are ok. They also provide transportation services to and from the senior center to promote socialization to those who may not be able to otherwise get out, I-Care counseling and more. In addition, there are numerous opportunities to volunteer. The HCCOA relies on state funding and donations to fund the 7,000 meals that they deliver each month. They make sure that more than 1,400 homebound seniors are supplied with healthy meals that they would otherwise go without. There are an amazing amount of resources needed to cover the services they provide for the county. “The Store”, a re-sale shop in Conway, is in business to support the HCCOA home-delivered meal program. “The Store” sells anything from household to lawn and garden items. They accept furniture, electronics and miscellaneous items, with certain restrictions. To learn more about the Senior Center, “The Store” or the tremendous work that the Horry County Council on Aging does for the county, please visit www.hccoa.org. Grand Strand Senior Center 1268 21st Avenue North Myrtle Beach, SC 29577 Phone: 843.626.3991 Email: Seniors1268@yahoo.com Web: www.grandstrandseniorcenter.org Hours: Monday-Friday 9:00am-3:30pm  –  Saturday-Sunday Closed Do you like to travel? We do! Join us for one of our upcoming trips: South Dakota Adventure in July Pacific Northwest and California in July We also have fun day trips! Check our website for a full list of activities on our monthly activity calendar www.grandstrandseniorcenter.org View Original Article
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Grand Strand Senior Center getting more active | Strand Notebook

Beginning in July, working seniors will be able to enjoy some of the activities offered by the Grand Strand Senior Center, located at 1268 21st Avenue North in Myrtle Beach. At the direction of the Horry County Council on Aging (HCCOA), which operates 10 centers across the county, the Grand Strand Senior Center implemented its first advisory committee in January in an effort to come up with new ways to serve seniors, to help keep the center in the spotlight and let seniors know the center is there and better than ever. Laura Cason, marketing coordinator for the Horry County Council on Aging, said that a recent survey and other information gathered has shown them that there are seniors still working who might want to be involved in some of the activities or classes at the center. To accommodate them, the Grand Strand Senior Center is extending its hours of operations on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Current operating hours are from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., but in July, the center will be open with lots of activities going on until 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and there is a cost for attending some of the extra classes. The gym is always open to members for free. Some of the activities already planned for Tuesdays and Thursdays within the extended hours include a basket weaving class, a line dancing class and a board game fun shop in which participants can play different board games, AARP workshops, a Mary Kay workshop that will offer free facials to all seniors who desire one, a jewelry making workshop, which will be taught by Mitzi Boyd of Bitzi’s Beads, and much more. The classes mostly fill up quickly, so any senior who is interested in any mentioned above or wants to know more about what will be offered should call as soon as possible. Cason said they are planning to have different local attorneys to speak on several topics that are important for seniors and to answer questions from seniors. That will be free. The center also plans trips near and far for members, who can make those trips at a significantly discounted cost. Upcoming trips include historic Charleston, San Antonio, Texas, South Dakota and the Bahamas. The center, which currently has 974 members, is constantly looking for different kinds of activities or classes that will interest its seniors and encourages local artists or crafts people who would like to teach a class to call. The Grand Strand Senior Center is the only one that is extending hours. Other HCCOA centers are in Aynor, Bucksport, Burgess, Carolina Forest, Conway, Green Sea/Floyds, Loris, Longs and Surfside Beach. It also operates a recycle, reuse, repurpose store at 1784 S.C. 90, Conway. The Grand Strand Senior Center can be reached at 843-626-3991 and located on the Internet at www.grandstrandseniorcenter.org. The HCCOA can be reached at 843-248-5523 and is on the Internet at www.hccoa.org

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