Area senior centers reopen after being closed for more than a year

JASPER COUNTY, Mo. – More than a dozen visitors at the Webb City Senior Center do arm curls and leg lifts to work up a sweat and get the blood flowing.

“We need the exercise. We’ve sat and gone to the refrigerator was our exercise,” says Webb City resident Connie Morris jokingly.

For Connie Morris, it’s the first time she’s been to the senior center for more than a year.

“We’re just thrilled to come back and see all of our friends,” explains Morris.

Area Agency on Aging Region X has re-opened senior centers in Jasper, Newton, McDonald and Barton County after they were closed for 13 months during the pandemic.

“We are terribly excited to do so. We have missed our folks desperately,” says Jennifer Shotwell, CEO of Area Agency on Aging Region X.

To say that the ladies at the Carl Junction senior center might be an under statement.

“I kept telling them, well you know, as long as we don’t get too close to each other it oughta be alright,” says Jasper County resident Johnnie Webb with a laugh. “And I really did miss it and all of these people.”

“It is wonderful. It is good to see old friendly faces again,” says Carl Junction resident Julia Damiano-Morre.

But that’s not to say there haven’t been some changes. Social distancing and mask wearing is encouraged, visitors are being asked to call ahead for activities because capacities are being limited, and only certain activities are happening on each day.

“We cover four counties, so Covid positivity rates can vary drastically. We did the best that we could to come up with an initial schedule,” explains Shotwell. “What it might look like in June is still up in the air.”

But even with the changes, visitors like Moore are happy to see their friends again in person, and get to do something as simple as give someone a hug.

“I’ve missed that as much as I’ve missed being able to visit with people, because that’s just part of who I am,” says Moore.

Things that make life feel a little more normal.

“It just feels wonderful. Just to get out of the house and be around my friends and everybody up here that I just love,” says Webb City resident Cindy Scholl.

Since each of the centers has its own schedule that could differ from other centers, the Area on Aging asks that you call ahead to see what the schedule is at your local center.