Gwinnett County has been planning for what some refer to as a “Silver Tsunami” of seniors moving to the county to be closer to children and grandchildren creating a demographic which is expected to outnumber younger demographics.
Taking action to accommodate the aging population, Commissioners approved a plan to renovate three senior centers in Buford, Norcross, and Lawrenceville and to build an additional one in Centerville which opened in 2017. On May 8, 2019, the completion of this project was celebrated with the grand re-opening of the Norcross Senior Center located at 5030 Georgia Belle Ct.
“With these renovations, there is room for all of the amazing programs that we provide — Fall Prevention and Chronic Disease prevention as well as a bunch of fun activities such as field trips, dancing, grocery shopping, billiards, and also some card games. I appreciate being here today,” said Commissioner Jace Brooks, District I.
The County approved a $444,400 renovation project for the 20-year old center which was funded with 2014 and 2017 SPLOST programs and with assistance from the Atlanta Regional Commission. The re-opened building will accommodate 30 additional seniors in the program which includes shared meals in an enlarged dining area at the center. Other updates include a new multi-purpose classroom, and covered entrance and drop-off area, an updated computer lab, a personal care room, a salon, an art room, and support spaces.
“For 20 years, we have been serving seniors in this facility, and I am pleased to be here. It is brighter, more open, and more efficient and will allow us to more comfortably serve our growing senior population!” said District II Commissioner Ben Ku speaking on behalf of Chairwoman Charlotte Nash.
Ku explained that between the expanded resources available at the County’s four senior centers and the addition of two new satellite locations created through partnerships with the city of Grayson and Snellville, an additional 220 seniors can enjoy their free and cost-shared programs and services.
To qualify for these programs, participants must undergo an application and assessment process to determine their economic and social need. Those with frailty or institutional risks may receive priority, while others may be referred or placed on waiting lists until there is an opening in their area.
Directed by the County’s Department of Health and Human Services, the Norcross senior center is located in the OneStop Norcross building which houses a variety of independent programs including Norcross Health Clinic, View Point Health, and the Tags Office.
Mary Ferguson and her good friend Hilda Gibson have been attending the center for many years. They enjoy the regular exercise, beauty appointments, and meals at the center.
“The I way I found out about it was when I was getting my car tags done, and I saw this center and wanted to see what it was like. So, I called Hilda and said, ‘Let’s go check it out!’” Ferguson said.
Of the renovated center, Ferguson added, “They did a really good job. Compared to the old building, space is more open. It used to be divided [into different rooms], but now it’s cleaner and prettier. The decorations and colors are nice!”
“I love the color of the walls. They’re not all the same color, and they go with the chairs,” agreed Hilda Gibson.
Focused on overall wellness and addressing the issue of senior food insecurities, Health and Human Services has partnered with Harvest Gwinnett and with the Senior Farmer’s Market Meal Program to provide additional opportunities for fresh options to supplement a balanced nutrition program. Additional programming promotes overall health and wellness education.
To promote sustainable food sourcing, Master Gardeners with UGA Extension Gwinnett aided in installing raised garden beds in the center’s outdoor patio where they utilize a rain catcher and a compost heap.
“We offer these services because today’s seniors are living longer, fuller, more active and independent lives. Our programs educate and empower senior safety, success, and happiness, allowing seniors to age in place in their homes,” Ku said.
After lunch and the commissioner’s speeches concluded, Tina Fleming, the Director of Community Services, called the commissioners as well as local partners from organizations including Friends of Gwinnett Seniors and the Atlanta Regional Commission to help cut the ribbon and officially re-open the center.
“We couldn’t have done this project without our Support Services Department within Gwinnett County,” said Fleming who went on thank individuals who had helped in the effort.
Fleming then added, “And let’s give a shout out to the most important people in this project—our Norcross seniors who have patiently met at Lucky Shoals during the construction. We are so excited now you are [back] in your new home, and we’re glad you’re here! “
For more information about the County’s public senior centers, visit their web page at: https://www.gwinnettCounty.com/web/gwinnett/departments/communityservices/healthhumanservices/seniorservices.