PRIME: ‘Cheery’ new look for Chilliwack Senior Recreation Centre

The Chilliwack Senior Recreation Centre has undergone renovations both inside and out.

Merle Alkenbrack (foreground) is a member of the Tuesday Matters rug hooking club at Chilliwack Senior Recreation Centre. The rec centre has recently been renovated and they are having a ceremony to celebrate in the fall.

They call themselves the ‘face lift’ committee, and they’re bringing the Chilliwack Senior Recreation Centre into the 21st century.

“We have a new board of directors with visions for the future,” says secretary Marnie Kidder.

With the baby boomer generation now entering or nearing their senior years, there will soon be a wave of Chilliwack residents moving into retirement.

“We’re trying really hard to make a difference. Not only for the current members, but also the baby boomers who will be coming through,” says Kidder. “There’s a boarded up building right cross the street. We don’t want to look like a derelict building.”

For years the building has needed a makeover, both inside and out, to draw more people in. Now renovations have finally been done.

To start, they have wifi. With more people owning smart phones and tablets, installing wifi was a no-brainer, says Kidder.

On the outside of the building, gone is the painted-on signage reading ‘Chilliwack Senior Recreation Centre’ in dark green letters.

That’s been painted over and replaced with eight, large signs — five along the College Street side, and three along the Victoria Avenue side. Many of the signs advertise the variety of activities offered by the Chilliwack Senior Recreation Centre: ‘Home of the Chilliwack Country Jammers’ reads one sign, ‘Bingo, Everyone Welcome,’ is written on another.

Head inside and they have newly built round tables, made by one of their volunteers, that seat four or five comfortably.

“We are trying to get rid of the institutional feel and get people into a more conversation feel,” says Kidder.

They also installed wall-to-wall curtains in the main room. Pulled open, the wall features several displays and photo collages from some of the groups that gather at the centre. Close the curtains and you have a clean backdrop perfect for hall rentals.

Many people don’t even know the Chilliwack Senior Recreation Centre exists, let alone the fact that they rent out their hall. It’s a less expensive option for birthday parties, weddings and other gatherings, she says.

The centre also has a marble floor which is “great for tap dancing”, Kidder adds.

“This is all accessible to the community. And we have a full kitchen which can also be rented out.”

The kitchen is put to good use every Sunday morning where The Bridge of Chilliwack — a faith-based charitable organization that helps feed the hungry — comes in to serve 100-plus people during the weekly Less Fortunate Citizens Breakfast.

The centre is wheelchair accessible and portions of the hall can be rented, not just the whole area.

They also offer info sessions for seniors, which are usually free of charge. Most recently, they held a clinic to test hearing, and another time BCAA came to talk about driving and how one’s vision changes when one ages.

“I’ve heard nothing but positive feedback from the members as they come in the door. They come in from the dreary outside and it’s bright and cheery in here,” says Kidder.

They will be having an open house and grand reopening ceremony to celebrate the new renovations in the fall.

Current activities at the centre include Bingo on Mondays (12:30 to 3:15 p.m.), rug hooking on Tuesdays (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.), arts and crafts at 1 p.m. and doubles bridge from 1-4 p.m. on Wednesdays, al-anon meetings on Thursdays (7:30 to 8:30 p.m.), acoustic country jam sessions at 7 p.m. on Saturdays ($4 admission, bring your own instrument), and the Less Fortunate Citizens Breakfast from 9 to 10:30 a.m. every Sunday.

The Chilliwack Senior Recreation Centre is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and pool hall hours are noon to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. All hours are dependant on volunteer availability.

Membership is $20 per year and anyone aged 50 or older can join. For more info, go to the centre at 9400 College St., or call 604-792-4549.

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