By Susan Nolan
The South County Senior Activity Center in Edgewater is getting a much-needed makeover. On Jan. 6, Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman and officials from the Department of Aging and Disabilities broke ground on a new construction project that aims to improve the existing facility. Updated restrooms, renovated office space and reception area, and a new fitness room are all part of the $2,457,500 construction package.
Built in 1991 at 27 Stepney Lane, the center serves over 6,800 citizens over the age of 55. Daily lunches, bus trips and exercise classes are just a few of the center’s popular offerings. “Expanding opportunities to enhance the health and wellness of older adults in southern Anne Arundel County is long overdue,” said Pittman.
With improvements expected to take six to eight months, the center has temporarily relocated to 3158 Braverton Street in South River Colony, less than a mile from its permanent facility.
According to Center Director Suzie Antkowiak, the center will continue to operate without disrupting services. “We are still serving hot lunches Monday through Friday, and we will use our temporary location to host smaller clubs and games, such as bingo and cards.”
Antkowiak is especially excited about the 2,000 square foot addition to the existing center, saying, “it will be flexible space that we can use for programs.”
In the meantime, the center will continue to utilize the community rooms at the Edgewater Library and the South County Police Station. “They have been gracious to host our larger classes, like yoga and aerobics. Anne Arundel Community College is still providing us with instructors,” says Antkowiak.
Many of the courses scheduled to begin in January will run through March. They include a variety of art and fitness classes, as well as scholastic enrichment programs, such as Beginning Spanish, Creative Writing and Irish Poets. While classes and programs may require a small fee, membership to the center is free and meals are free to members over 60.
Jerry Aisquith has been going to the South County Senior Activity Center three days a week for 17 years. In addition to socializing with the other members, Aisquith also volunteers. “I help with whatever needs doing. Taking care of the flowers, filing, helping with lunch. I’m happy to do it. This is a nice place to be.”
Antkowiak recognizes that registering for a class or showing up for lunch can be intimidating for many of the people the center serves. She and her staff are available to answer questions and assist as needed. She describes the center’s many regular patrons as “friendly and eager to welcome newcomers.”
For those who need an extra nudge, Antkowiak says, “I always recommend a family member come with them the first couple of times. That way they can get comfortable with us and make some friends before being left on their own.”
Transportation can also be arranged through the County Office of Transportation. More information about the Department of Aging and Disabilities can be found at aacounty.org/departments/aging-and-disabilities.