Plans for celebrating the 35th anniversary of the DeForest Area Community and Senior Center are being finalized.
At the same time, its future needs are being considered.
“The building is feeling its age,” said Barb Cooper, the center’s executive director.
In 2016, there was talk of expanding to a 25,000-square-foot complex from its current 12,000-square-foot configuration at an estimated cost of $5 million. Those plans were tabled, due to concerns about the site.
Back then, Cooper said it would take an estimated $7.5 million to tear down the center and build new.
The center serves the village of DeForest and Windsor, as well as the Town of Vienna.
Today, the building supports 35,000 visits per year, according to Cooper. About 100 people per day walk through its doors, said Cooper, and the center hosts 2,500 programs and activities annually.
Cooper wonders if it’s time to revisit those remodeling plans.
“In the meantime, we make good use of the space,” said Cooper.
The center’s 35th anniversary will be celebrated the week of Aug. 26-30. An evening open house will take place Wednesday August 28 from 4-7 p.m. A dance performances by the youth who are taking classes through the Park and Recreation department will be part of the festivities.
Staff will be present to meet and greet visitors and share what they do.
Other participants will be invited to show what they do at the center. Cooper said those details are still being worked out. There will also be a drawing for gift baskets as raffle prizes, too.
On Friday, Aug. 30 at 12:15 p.m., Tony Rocker will perform. A “Cool Cars” show will be held on the center’s lawn with classic cars on display. Some of the center’s own participants are bringing their cars out for display.
Additionally, there is sock hop lunch day, with anniversary cake and punch after the entertainment. There will also be a 50/50 raffle where tickets can be bought for a chance to win half the pot collected.
As for the original building, Cooper identified some issues to address, including it heating and air conditioning system, its parking lot and the roof.
“The community is proud of (the center) … and we can be very proud of it,” said Cooper. “It’s just that we’re growing.”
Cooper emphasized that the space is being used efficiently, thanks to a talented staff. They rely on careful planning to make it work.
The center is staffed by 6.5 full-time equivalent employees, but volunteers play a big role. A total of 205 helped out in 2018.
“We could not do what we do without our volunteers,” said Cooper. “Think about what that would cost if they were assigned a wage. It would certainly be a six-figure number.”
Cooper also noted that Dane County is experiencing tremendous growth, as are the local communities the center serves. The area’s senior population is also rising.
“It’s not a stretch of the imagination to think that, as part of that growth, more senior housing will be moving in,” said Cooper.
The DeForest Area Communithy and Senior Center serves seniors who still live in their homes with health screenings, nutritious lunches and a once-a-month food box distribution.
“Our case managers have heard people say that helped them make it through a month,” said Cooper.
Cooper said there has been a huge interest in fitness among those the center serves. A fitness room is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and there are classes in yoga and strength training in the facility’s large room.
“If we put in an addition, we could double or more than double what we offer for fitness,” said Cooper, who would like to see the facility have a walking track.
The center also helps seniors with socialization, offering bingo and card games like euchre to its users.