Center's Variety Keeps Area Seniors Active

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Gene Wojcik, 86, has been coming to line dance classes at the Payson Senior Center for a long time. She loves moving to the music and realizes the class is keeping her healthy.

"I love this class, and I've been coming for nine years," she said with a huge smile.

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Woodworking is just one of the many diverse activities offered at the Payson Senior Center. Among the other activities are exercise and dance classes, card and pool games, legal assistance, music therapy and Bible studies. The center also provides lunch Monday through Friday and handles the area's Meals on Wheels program.

Wojcik is one of about 15 women who seek inner strength and get it, along with a healthier heart by attending the class at the senior center, located at 514 W. Main St. in Payson.

The line dancing class isn't the only program available here, there is walk aerobics, wood carving, pool, music therapy, various card games, and Bible studies.

The center, run by director Marsha Cauley, is usually a busy place. Dozens of people

come in and out of the center seeking socialization and friendships.

They can also receive a nutritional meal at the center, five days a week beginning at noon. People 60 years old or older may pay a $3 donation, those under 60 can pay $4.50 per meal.

"If Payson didn't have the senior center, it would be a big mess -- 50 people eat here every day. So many people only get one nutritious meal a day, and they get it here," Cauley said.

The center also runs the area's Meals on Wheels program, where the homebound can receive hot, nutritional meals delivered to their door, five days a week. They can also order frozen meals for the weekend.

"The kitchen staff is busy making 100 meals for the homebound each day, plus up to 200 frozen meals for people nearly every weekend," said Cauley. "When I first started working here four years ago, we were only delivering about 45 each day, but financially we're capped at 100 a day," she said.

Although the center has its own vehicles to drive the meals around Payson, the program is looking for volunteers to help with deliveries. Volunteers deliver the meals, briefly talk to the person and make sure they're doing OK. Any problems are immediately reported to senior center staff.

"We can't get there fast enough or do enough for people. There is a huge need for senior assistance in Payson. Because our population keeps growing, so does the need," Cauley said.

The center also runs tram transportation. For a $4 round trip charge, seniors can get transportation to and from shopping, events, and appointments. Van transportation to and from the senior center for lunch is only $1 round trip.

Also provided at the center is legal advice. Once a month, an attorney is at the center to offer advice. Services are offered on a donation basis.

Seniors can also get guidance on obtaining prescription drugs, respite, housekeeping, home repairs and Alzheimer's activities.

The center is funded through donations, the center's thrift store and Pinal-Gila Council for Senior Citizens.

"We're in a severe financial crunch here, we need monetary donations badly and if people want to donate money that would be very much appreciated. Also we'd like people to support our thrift store which greatly helps fund some of our programs," Cauley said.

The thrift store is located next to the Payson Senior Center and is open six days a week, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.

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