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Lodi senior centers combine to offer more activities, classes

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Posted: Thursday, August 1, 2013 12:00 am

For several years, if seniors wanted to know what programs were offered at Lodi’s senior centers, they’d have to call two different numbers and keep track of two separate calendars.

Thanks to an agreement between LOEL Center and Gardens and the city of Lodi, both centers are now one and the same, and will offer more classes and activities. The change was made official on July 8.

The three-year agreement allows the LOEL Center to rent the Senior Center at Hutchins Street Square for $1 per year, plus $250 a month for utilities, said Jeff Hood, director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services. That’s a savings to the city — which previously ran the Hutchins program — of about $28,000 a year, since they won’t have to staff the center, run the phones, or provide janitorial services.

“They’re doing everything that we had, but they’re going to be able to do more and to coordinate it all,” said Hood. “It seems like business as usual.”

Tracy Williams, LOEL Center director, says she’s in the process of getting to know exactly what programs happen when, and how many seniors are attending. She’s also looking for more input as to what kinds of classes seniors in Lodi are interesting in taking.

“We’re just trying to get our bearings,” she said. “Once I see what’s over there and where I can fit things, we can sit down and figure it out.”

For example, morning and lunchtime programs at the LOEL Center on Washington Street tend to be overcrowded, with lines out the door. But mornings at the Senior Center at Hutchins are very quiet, so Williams wants to expand some of LOEL’s crowded programs over to Hutchins to make more room.

More room also means more activities. Potential new classes include jewelry making, social media classes and scrapbooking. Most classes are free, though some, such as an AARP safe driving course, require a fee to pay for an instructor.

The expansion to Hutchins also means offering the AARP driving class as often as once a month, instead of only three times a year. Williams said there’s always a waiting list for that course.

Williams explained this change is for the better.

“Everything is more streamlined and user friendly,” she said. “Seniors tend to be nervous about change, but this is only a benefit to them in the long run.”

Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at sarap@lodinews.com.

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