By BRIAN BOHNERT
SENIOR STAFF WRITER
For nearly five decades, the Fostoria Senior Citizen Center has served as a gathering place for area seniors to enjoy each other’s company.
And while the agency is very much in a state of flux, the friendly neighborhood atmosphere that’s kept the golden age of Fostorians having fun since 1968 is not going away anytime soon.
Mimi Schaffner, president of the board of trustees, said the board is actively interviewing candidates for its executive director position last filled on the interim by Marilyn Miller.
The Senior Center was established 49 years ago inside the old Teen Center on North Main Street — currently the Sharing Kitchen. The program was founded by Dorthy Rothenbuhler, the original director of the Senior Center.
Mary Schwab later took over as director of the Senior Center — a role she embraced with pride for 45 years until her sudden passing on Oct. 14, 2012.
“The Senior Center is a place for seniors to go to meet as a group and remain active,” Schwab said in a September 2012 interview with the Review Times. The center saw its highest numbers in the mid-1980s when there were upwards of 250 members.
Membership has dwindled since then, but Schaffner said there are still plenty of educational events and activities such as SkipBo, euchre, pinochle, mahjong and Pokeno, which is similar to Bingo, but with cards.
An upcoming course will teach members how to keep the flowers in their gardens blooming all year round.
“A lot of people kind of come and go all-day long,” Schaffner said. “Playing cards is the biggest thing they do.”
The agency started as a tear-down program — meaning everything had to be put away every night after close of business. In 1969, the Senior Center moved to 125 E. Tiffin St., where it remained for 43 years.
In September 2012, the center moved into the newly renovated YMCA Annex at 125 W. North St. The move was initiated by two United Way agencies looking to reduce funding required from the nonprofit. The Y offered the newly renovated building with about $80,000 worth of restorations.
The center is open Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Schaffner said memberships are available to anyone age 50 or older for $20 a year.
“All they have to do is stop in, sign their name and become a member,” she said.
One of the biggest draws to the center is its monthly health clinic provided by St. Catherine’s Manor of Fostoria.
Nurses with St. Catherine’s come to the Senior Center and check blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, blood sugar and more. The free clinics are open from 9-11 a.m. and are available to anyone in the community, not just senior citizens.
Fostoria Police Department also provides monthly programs geared toward keeping Fostoria’s seniors independent and safe from many of the common scams targeting America’s elderly.
“It’s nice to be there for people in case they do have questions,” Schaffner said.
JB Tours, 545 E. Lytle St., often works with the Senior Center in organizing day trips for members to travel without breaking the bank.
“They reimburse the center a small percentage for seniors who choose to go,” she said.
Because the senior center is located on the Geary Family YMCA property, Schaffner said Silver Sneakers Fitness members also have access to the senior center.
“They’re supporting healthy lifestyles.” She said.
Evelyn Marker, executive director of the United Way of Fostoria, said the Senior Center has been a partner agency since as far back as 1990 — maybe even earlier.
“It provides a central location for people — not just seniors — to get information about the community, and to socialize and just get out and about,” Marker said. “Sometimes we remain in our homes and our environments, and we just need to get out a bit.”
For more information, visit the Fostoria Senior Citizen Center at 125 W. North St.