Prime Time Center flourishing

Open since August, the Prime Time Senior Center at 300 Lovers Lane, Steubenville, in the former Temple Beth Israel synagogue is nearly 700 members strong, developing programs and looking forward to continued growth.

Such is the state-of-the-center assessment by Judy Owings, its director, who says the facility has anywhere from 100 to 150 people coming daily through the doors that are, at this point, open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The annual membership fee is $25 for Jefferson County residents 60 and older and $35 for non-Jefferson County residents and those under age 60. Owings said some members are not Jefferson County residents, and some members from Steubenville, for example, also attend other senior centers.

The center was something that was needed, according to Owings.

“There were small places throughout the county, but there was no one countywide center, and (it’s) to have not only the socialization but for people to start some community programs,” Owings said. “There are just so many things that can be done if you have a place to congregate,” she said.

The typical participants and volunteers at the center are in the 65-to-75 age group although it’s open to those age 50 and up. “Our oldest member is 99,” Owings said.

“We don’t see a whole lot of the 50 crowd, but that’s still like the working age, and we’re only open 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. right now Monday through Friday,” Owings said. “Hopefully we can increase some of those hours along the way,” she added.

The center has a daily walking group from 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.; a Prime Time fitness class with Tammy Gregory from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. daily; and Able Body Fitness on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.; and dance exercise on Thursday from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

There’s also bingo twice a week; a special room for daily movie viewing at 1 p.m.; Mahjongg, a Chinese solitaire game; crochet classes; and more.

“We have bridge groups that meet also, and we’re just continually organizing new things,” Owings said, noting members also can hang out, watch television, and enjoy a cup of coffee and social time.

They also can check out the gift shop.

“The gift shop currently has typical things that you would find in any gift shop plus also we’re incorporating things we’re doing in our crochet classes and craft classes,” Owings said. “We made a lot of wreaths this year, which are very popular, and we made some extra and sell them in the gift shop. It also allows people to purchase gift bags and cards and things so people who don’t get out to shop a lot can go in the gift shop and pick up a birthday gift or things like that,” Owings said.

The center also has hosted special programs, including a Halloween event, a Veterans Day program, a Thanksgiving luncheon and special activities in observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.

Another big draw are the daily lunches at the center, which is one of the 11 congregate sites for Prime Time meals in Jefferson County. The noon lunch attracts on average 70 to 80 people.

A much appreciated $40,000 grant from the Charles M. and Thelma M. Pugliese Foundation made possible improvements to the kitchen so all meals for all the congregate sites – about 300 a day – can now be prepared at the center, according to Owings. The money was used for renovations that included the purchase of an ice maker, dish washer, two sinks, a double convection oven and a walk-in cooler-freezer.

A meal is available for a $1 donation for those 60 and older, and a guest under age 60 can eat for $4. Requests to do so need made a day ahead of time.

As far as the official name of the facility, Owings said people have gotten used to Prime Time Center, “but I would like to also have kind of a subtitle to better define what we’re about.

“It’s not a contest, but we’re just giving everyone the opportunity to provide some of their ideas. We will be getting a permanent sign made next year, so we have to come to a conclusion by then,” she said.

Owings said the center is blessed to have the help of volunteers to be able to undertake what is being done at the center and has a good neighbor in St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church which allows parking overflow.

The center is a place providing a lot of opportunities for people age 50 and up “to continue to interact with people and socialize with people in different ways, not just a place to come to eat. They also serve the community, and we’re going to be doing more programs like that,” Owings said.

“What it isn’t is an adult day care. Some people have that concept,” Owings clarified.

The center will host an ice cream social at 12:30 p.m. on Dec. 23 and will be closed Dec. 25-27 in observance of Christmas.