The Main Actress Leads a Golden Cast
Spearheaded by Dee Chappel, the Powder Springs Senior Center educates, entertains, embraces the community and sometimes empowers love.
Just because you're sprouting gray hair doesn't mean you're lacking gray cells—or muscles or attitude. Just ask Dee Chappel, the spark that ignites the Powder Springs Senior Center.
Chappel runs the Atlanta Street facility next to the Powder Springs Library at the Coach George E. Ford Cultural Arts and Community Center.
She laughs when she says it's on a "part-time" basis, because most of her hours run past the scheduled 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday-through-Friday timeframe.
She drives the bus for monthly field trips, including ones to the Governor's Mansion and the Federal Reserve Museum. She organizes the monthly newsletter and calendar, which is printed pro bono by Gregory's Quality Printing and sent out to members, some of whom are homebound.
Chappel also sets up the enrichment classes for members, including quilting, music, computers, knitting, exercise, jewelry making, line dancing, card playing, mosaic art and Bible studies. The instructors for the classes volunteer their time, and if they can't make it, "then it's up to me to take over," Chappel said.
The center was established in 1992 and is owned by the city, which also picks up the tab for utilities and Chappel's part-time salary. (She volunteers the extra hours.)
With its spacious kitchen, the center also serves as a site for Meals on Wheels in Cobb County.
Chappel emphasizes that the center is for seniors, ages 55 and older, who are independent.
"That means they have to be able to move around, and they must be able to care for themselves," she adds. "Too many families will try to dump off a family member because they need care. We are not an adult care facility—Cobb County has one of those."
The center offers a place for seniors to reconnect and socialize. Even their fundraisers, which gather money for programs and projects, are bonding events for the golden group.
Members make arts and crafts to sell, as well as set up booths for yard sales.
"This is such a nice place," said Linda Stinchcomb, a 69-year-old Powder Springs resident and longtime member. "It brought me out of depression after my husband died."
Other members have similar positive feelings, demonstrated by the hugs they give one another as they depart after classes—which are free for members unless there are more expensive supplies needed, like in the jewelry class.
The classes and fundraisers give members a chance to be productive. Some of their creations have been donated to Bethel Gardens Assisted Living Center, while others are sold at their fundraisers.
"We also have special seminars with health information sometimes," Chappel said. "Other times, it's something like our AARP Defensive Driving Course next month."
Coffee and pastries donated by Publix are available each day in the main building. There, members play cards in between classes and events.
Membership costs are hardly bank-breaking, with annual fees only $10 for city residents, $15 for Cobb County residents, and $20 for residents of surrounding counties.
Membership has its privileges: Not only do they get free classes, but also a shot at forming harmonious—and perhaps loving—bonds.
"Two of our members, Don and Judy Sorrells, just got married last month," Chappel revealed. "We're so happy for them. They met right here!"