By Kristi OHarran Herald Columnist
There were a couple of reasons for my visit to the Mill Creek Senior Center. I want to take a computer class in its state-of-the-art lab near my home.
Also, I will become a member when I leave The Herald on Dec. 31.
Long timers in the newsroom were offered a buy-out. That means they’ll pay me to leave. I’ve been here for 28 years, plus three before that as a contract worker on Camano Island.
Going seems like the right thing to do in my head, but not in my heart.
We’ll talk more later.
Having written many times about area senior centers and activities, it was time to meet Bill Durham, manager at Mill Creek. Come to find out, he graduated two years ahead of me at Shoreline High School.
We remembered the same burger joints along Aurora Avenue.
His center is a branch of the Northshore Senior Center in Bothell that boasts almost 8,000 members.
“We have a separate budget,” Durham said. “It’s about $105,000 per year.”
Operating money arrives from United Way, Snohomish County, the city of Mill Creek, what folks pay for classes, donations and fundraising.
It’s backbone is the volunteer core. Some 69 folks give their time to make the center sing.
Their dream is to raise enough money to build a new headquarters. I know how that works. I watched the folks on Camano Island work for years until their beautiful center was built.
Mill Creek’s senior center is in a business park. They have 2,400 square feet, Durham said, but would like a new home with 10,000 square feet.
I was interested in day trips from the center. My husband doesn’t drive and I adore anyone taking me anywhere I don’t have to be behind the wheel. They have a great driver, Durham said, who takes riders to concerts, ball games, the zoo, museums, casinos, restaurants and on mystery trips.
Once a month, on a Monday afternoon, they play bunco.
On a table were doughnuts, donated weekdays by Top Pot in Mill Creek. It’s a good thing they offer fitness classes, tai chi, walking groups, water aerobics and line dancing. There are two Red Hat Society groups, card games, driver safety and first aid classes.
Its wellness program includes visiting with a nurse on Thursday, caregiving counseling, support groups and programs on wellness, aging well, balance and depression.
I could meet some of the gang at a breakfast fundraiser from 8:30 to 11 a.m. Nov. 15 at Merrill Gardens Retirement Community, 14905 Bothell Everett Highway in Mill Creek.
For $10 or whatever folks can afford, they serve waffles, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage and beverages. Proceeds help the center offer educational, health and recreational programs.
Can’t figure out Medicaid? There’s a program coming up.
I don’t need to attend a Medicaid class, but it’s nice to know it’s available.
Durham understands retirement. He retired at age 52 after 30 years with the King County Parks Department. He was born in Panama where his father worked as an accountant for the Panama Canal.
They moved to Seattle because his father wanted his five children to get a good education. Durham was a star athlete at Shoreline High School and graduated from the University of Washington with a business degree and a passion for Husky sports.
He was the manager of the Mill Creek Senior Center when it shared space at the WSU Extension office at McCollum Park south of Everett and offered activities at churches.
He said he enjoys the folks at the center, where he is known as a teaser.
“We support one another,” he said. “People want laughter, fun and attention.”
One senior chatted with Durham beyond closing time. The senior talked about duty in World War II and landing on Omaha Beach.
“He left, then came back,” Durham said. “He said it was too lonely to go home.”
For many reasons, Durham encourages folks to give the senior center a try. He said he knows it’s not for everyone.
I plan to give it a try in 2012, when my life takes a zig and a zag.
Kristi O’Harran: 425-339-3451, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Mill Creek Senior Center is located at 15720 Bothell Everett Highway, Suite 201, in Mill Creek. For information on programs, call 425-948-7170. A waffle breakfast fundraiser is planned from 8:30 to 11 a.m. Nov. 15 at Merrill Gardens Retirement Community, 14905 Bothell Everett Highway in Mill Creek. For $10 or whatever folks can afford, they serve waffles, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage and beverages. Proceeds assist the center in efforts to offer educational, health and recreational programs.