People are thrilled to return to the Manassas and Woodbridge senior centers and they started lining up outside at the centers a half hour before the doors opened at 11 a.m. Thursday.
“It’s just nice to be around seniors my age and being able to talk with folks and have a good time rather than sitting at home,” said retired truck and bus driver Ronnie Carter, a returning Woodbridge Senior Center regular.
Once they got through the Woodbridge Senior Center doors, Carter and some of his pool-shooting buddies made a beeline for the pool table where they divided up into teams to play and spectators to watch and await their turn.
“I like the senior center because I don’t have a pool table at home,” said Joe Cooney, a Vietnam veteran who served one tour in Vietnam in the U.S. Marine Corps and federal government retiree.
Others just like seeing old friends. “It’s the camaraderie, socializing and just hanging out with different people. We meet here, we eat, we just get together in fellowship with older people. I missed the place,” said Earnest Todd, a retired U.S. Army chief warrant officer, who can once again frequent the Woodbridge Senior Center.
In addition to the pool tables, people played cards, mahjong, and ping pong. Others came for the food. “The cook is so good,” Mary Lightfoot said of Bonita Swank, the lead cook at the Manassas Senior Center.
Staff might have been as happy to see the seniors as the seniors were to be back. “It makes the place livelier and it’s nice to see everybody smiling again and greeting each person they haven’t seen in a long time,” said Jodie Houser the evidence-based programs coordinator at the Manassas Senior Center.
“I am so happy. We’ve missed having people here at the center,” Sarah Henry, the director of the Area Agency on Aging, said at the Woodbridge Senior Center soon after people arrived. “It’s been a long 15 months. We are very excited. We have done programming and lunches and things like that as we have been closed, but it was nothing like this. It is amazing. We are so thrilled to be back.”
The hours both senior centers are open will increase over the coming weeks until they are back to a full operating schedule beginning Aug. 9.
The Woodbridge Senior Center, at 13850 Church Hill Drive and the Manassas Senior Center, at 9320 Mosby St., will be open on the following schedule:
The phased approach will help ensure the safety of the vulnerable populations served at the senior centers and time is subject to change.
For more information, call the Manassas Senior Center at 703-792-6405 or the Woodbridge Senior 703-792-5081.