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Park Rapids Senior Center is once again a welcoming site

New members are welcome to join in card playing and camaraderie at the Park Rapids Senior Citizens Center, located next to Armory Square on Second Street. (Kevin Cederstrom/Enterprise)1 / 3
Among the group instrumental in the revitalization of the Park Rapids Senior Citizens Center are, from left, Connie Carmichael, secretary; Karen Cole, vice president; Ruthann Helgren; Bobbie Field and president Wayne Reynolds. Former members arriving to view the refurbished center are pleased with the results. (Jean Ruzicka/Enterprise)2 / 3
The quaint senior center, dormant for the last few years, has a new group of members rejuvenating activities on Second Street. (Kevin Cederstrom/Enterprise)3 / 3

As the names reflect – Wisdom Club (circa 1955), Never Grow Old Club (circa 1956) and the Community Senior Citizens Club (1970) – the Park Rapids Senior Citizens Club has evolved through the decades, membership waxing and waning.

A year ago, there was talk of disbanding; the building was used once a week, just in the summer, by bridge groups.

Now a renaissance is in the works. Interest in the club located in the former fire hall has reignited.

Subtle new colors adorn the walls of the building that became the senior center in 1981. The floors shine. Restrooms have been renovated. Card tables and chairs fill the room. New furniture replaces what had been outdated, utilitarian décor. The kitchen has been scrubbed.

A calendar of events, replete with Mahjong and bridge groups meeting – and possibly whist - has been developed.

The center opens at 9 a.m., coffee and conversation brewing, Monday through Friday, with goodies served.

"We are open to the public," president Wayne Reynolds stressed. "This is not a private club. Everyone is welcome."

"Our hope is that this becomes a gathering place," said Connie Carmichael, club secretary and administrator of Living at Home. She envisions the two organizations working conjunctively.

A grand opening will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 25 to introduce the upgrades to the community.

Membership dues are $10; with members playing for free. Non-members will be asked to contribute a nominal amount per day.

The club is applying for a grant and plans to host fundraisers, as well as seeking support from private and corporate parties.

Activities began this week, with tentative schedules to include:

 -Party bridge will be played Tuesday from 12:30 to 4 p.m., with walk-ins welcome. Contact Ruthann Helgren at 732-7427.

-Ladies Headwaters Bridge will be shuffling cards from 10:30 to 3 p.m. Wednesdays. Contact Helgren or Faye Naugle at 732-5315.

-Duplicate bridge will be played from 12:30 to 4 p.m. Thursdays. Contacts are Sheila Tuhy at 732-3246 or 520-404-4667 or Dr. Everett Duthay, 732-8356 or 218-616-0609.

-Mahjong begins Monday June 6 (times yet to be determined).

In addition to social events, the club will host informative workshops, with topics and dates to be announced.

A caregivers discussion group is on the docket the fourth Wednesday of every month from 2 to 3:30 p.m.

Fridays, the Senior Center may be the site of health clinics.

The Park Rapids Senior Center is all-volunteer, membership run, Carmichael said. Because the (vast) majority of current members is snowbirds, hours may be cut back in the fall.

Volunteers – and card players – are welcome to join the "phoenix rising from the ashes" (a.k.a the former fire hall).