Senior center coming along

Above, seniors enjoy their weekly dinner at the Senior Center of Pickens last Tuesday evening. Below, members of the senior band perform live music during the event.

Senior Center Band

Senior Center Band

By Nicole Daughhetee, Courier Staff

PICKENS — When the SDPC abandoned the original 1929 Pickens Middle School building, the City of Pickens acquired it and for the lease price of $1 per year, the building has become home to the Senior Center of Pickens.

The lease price was certainly a steal, but with it came the reality of a 1929 building desperately in need of repairs and renovations, which are coming along slowly but steadily thanks to a committed board of trustees and devoted volunteers.

Pickens County Clerk of Court Pat Welborn and Keowee Key resident John Howard are two of those dedicated to creating a place for seniors in Pickens County to enjoy recreation, socialization and gourmet, home-cooked meals twice daily.

“We want to give back to our seniors. They didn’t have anywhere to meet,” said Howard. “These are people who have contributed much throughout their lives to our county and community. They need a place to call their own.”

A recently awarded $125,000 grant from the state has gone a long way to help with needed renovations, like ramp access for those participants who have trouble navigating stairs, but there is still a lot of work to be done and a great need for not only monetary donations, but also hours of man-power and volunteers.

The Senior Center of Pickens serves approximately 35-36 seniors daily. They are served a hot, home-cooked lunch five days a week and have Tuesday night dinners with live music. Lunch is a mere $3, and the dinner is $5.

“The costs are minimal, and we barely break even,” said Howard. “We are thankful for donations we receive so we can provide a good meal for our seniors.”

In addition to meals, the Senior Center of Pickens is home to a recreation room, where members can play pool and socialize. There is also a small library for quiet reading and contemplation, and Cannon Memorial Hospital offers a variety of fitness programs for health and wellness.

Pickens County’s YAM (Young Appalachian Musicians) Band rents room space at the Senior Center for lessons and jam sessions. This not only gives the YAMs a place to practice, but provides funding for the projects and renovations at the center.

A lot of work has been done in the building, but there is still much work to do. Many of the original 1929 hardwood floors have been refurbished and look like they did in their heyday. Classrooms have been brightened with new windows and fresh paint, and a brand-new HVAC system has been installed.

Yet there is still work to be done.

Currently under construction is the senior center’s auditorium.

“We have the auditorium seats from the old PHS that will go in here once the renovations are complete,” said Welborn. “They are made to fit on a sloped floor, so they are the perfect fit here.”

Touring the Senior Center of Pickens, one can see the many improvements that have been made in the building so that area seniors have a home away from home. The amount of volunteer work and generous donations that have gone into transforming the building is incredible.

Still, Howard and Welborn agree that there is much work left to be done and more help needed.

“There isn’t an area where we couldn’t use more volunteers,” said Welborn.

“Basically everything we have been able to do has been funded through donations,” said Howard. “We’ve been able to raise funds through the Pumpkintown and Azalea Festivals. We’ve gotten generous help from Sam’s Club, Duke Energy and the United Way.”

There is another fundraiser planned for Saturday, Aug. 17, at the Pickens Senior Center. The BBQ and Bluegrass event will take place from 5-8 p.m., and for $8 per plate, folks will enjoy BBQ, bun, beans, slaw, a drink and live entertainment by local bluegrass, country and gospel bands.

In the meantime, interested volunteers and financial contributions to the Senior Center of Pickens are more than welcome. Folks can visit the Senior Center at 129 School House Road in Pickens. Donations can be sent to P.O. Box 1574 in Pickens.