Members of the Senior Citizen Club of New Paltz and Gardiner will moving their meetings to the New Paltz Community Center, starting July 13. The president of the group — which welcomes anyone who is 55 or older, regardless of where they live — feels that the opportunities available through this new venue were “too good to pass up.”
Phyllis Maier, a ten-year member who has been club president for the past year, said in an interview that using this community center could allow for the variety and frequency of club activities to be ramped up. “We can use the Field of Dreams pavilion,” Maier said, and, “we can use the kitchen for a lunch or dinner” in addition to their monthly meetings, which are at 1:30 p.m. the second Wednesday of each month. “It’s a nice building, clean and new,” Maier added. “We think we can reach more seniors at the Community Center; a lot of them already go there for other activities.” Club members want to offer more activities and opportunities to socialize, and feel that this is a good fit.
Senior-citizen activities already at the Community Center include a weekly luncheon on Thursdays, but there are quite a few other events throughout the week that someone who is no longer working might enjoy, including waltz, contract bridge and medieval crafts and court dancing. While that weekly luncheon is restricted by age, senior citizens with the interest and the energy can participate in most of the activities offered at the center or other town facilities.
“We’re trying to expand, and offer other activities,” Maier said, and it seems that the schedule at the Community Center makes it easier to plug in additional events than it had been at the VFW hall on Route 208, where club members met for many years. “We couldn’t resist,” said the president.
Members of this club — as well as all senior citizens — suffered greatly during the early part of this pandemic. As it was understood that this disease was more dangerous to anyone with other health conditions, many senior citizens found themselves isolated. “It was awful,” Maier said. “We didn’t meet for over a year,” and even after vaccinations were easy to get, the VFW hall reopening was slowed by a number of cases cropping up among the members of that organization. “Seniors were afraid to meet, especially before vaccination, even to play cards.”
This club has been in existence since 1969 specifically to combat issues like isolation among senior citizens. “When our lives slow down, we have a hard time having fun and socializing,” said Maier, but “our need for people hasn’t gone away just because we got older. Seniors need to get to see people and do interesting things.” The club’s membership has been as high as 200 and as low as 30 in the past, and now stands at 51. The membership fee of $25 pays for lecturers and entertainers at the monthly meetings, when the goal is either to entertain or inform, and always to socialize. While the bylaws originally stipulated that residency in either New Paltz or Gardiner was required, that was recently changed, and now the only eligibility criterion is to have reached age 55.
Club members also have the opportunity to have lunch together every month or two, as well as join bus trips two or three times a year. The next big trip planned is to a tribute event from Engelbert Humperdinck, Tom Jones and Elvis Presley in New Jersey; that’s to take place in October.
The community center is at 3 Veterans Drive in New Paltz, and anyone interested in learning more about one of the longest-running social clubs in the area is welcome to pop in on July 13 at 1:30 p.m. to meet the members.