Nov. 23, 2005 – "It's been a long time coming." That was the sentiment echoed by many at the reopening of the Richmond Senior Citizen Center on Tuesday in St. Croix. The center, which was damaged in Hurricanes Hugo and Marilyn, had renovations begun on it three years ago. More than 100 people including seniors and staff attended the reopening ceremony.
Each of the speakers had words of praise for the staff and the work done in creating and designing the center. Human Services Commissioner Sedonie Halbert welcomed the seniors back to the center. She thanked her staff for the efforts members put into making the center a "home away from home" for the seniors. "We have so much to be thankful for," Delegate Donna Christensen said. "You have outdone yourself," said Juel Molloy, Gov. Charles W. Turnbull's chief of staff.
The center is a "new vision" in heath care of seniors featuring a rest and relaxation room, a computer room, an activities center, a laundry room, a full service kitchen, a sitting and television room and a multi-purpose room with a stage. The center plans to offer activities such as a pool table, flower making and table games. Plans are also in store to establish a beauty center where both men and women seniors can get their hair and nails done. The seniors can also learn to play the steel pan and dance quadrille steps.
"I'll come every day as long as God gives me strength," said Winthropp A. Hector Sr. Hector, a retired contractor, who was born on Nov. 18, 1915, looks forward to playing pool at the center. "I competed in the states," he said. "I've won three championships."
Eva Williams, Human Services senior citizens affairs administrator, said the center promotes a more healthy and active lifestyle for seniors. The center is partnering with the Richmond Head Start, located next door for "intergenerational" activities like storytelling and outings with both seniors and preschoolers. Williams said this partnership would assist in passing down the culture to the youth.
While the center was being renovated, the seniors participated in programs at the Lutheran Senior Center and other centers around the island. The center has 14 rooms and five bathrooms. The renovations, which cost about $480,000, included a new roof. Delays in shipping of materials set back the completion date several times. Asbestos was also removed from the building.
Halbert said the next project the department will tackle is the renovation of the Aldersville Senior Center in Frederiksted.
Sen. Usie R. Richards, chairperson of the Committee on Health and Human Services, and committee members Sens. Pedro M. Encarnacion and Neville James also made remarks.
The center is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information on the canter call 772-9811.
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