I am writing this as a citizen of North Augusta and not as a member of any committee I may serve on. I am a former staff member of the North Augusta Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department with a degree in Urban Recreation and Park Administration. I have been organizing, developing and conducting recreation programming since 1976, over 45 years. I have also worked for the employees of SRS, been employed at Aiken County Parks and worked a brief time as parks director for Gregg Park in Graniteville.
All of these experiences have taught me the key to being active is not the facility, but the programming. There are many organizations that provide passive, as well as active, opportunities for seniors throughout our community; churches, service clubs, Garden Clubs, Community Ministries, The Family Y, just to name a few. What we lack, in my opinion, is a dedicated person/staff to pull these organizations and programs together and publicize them effectively. The recreation profession has instruction at the college level on the ever growing senior population needs. There is no better place to do that than our existing NAPRT Department. At issue is despite the ever expanding facilities we build, the extra staff that is needed to concentrate on the senior population does not follow. Almost every budget year, the department requests an additional employee and they are consistently denied.
The Activities Center functions as a meeting place for exercise and fellowship for countless seniors at a very affordable price. There are even volunteer opportunities if the cost of membership is an issue. There are tremendous opportunities to give back to youth via their sports programs as a coach, official, scorer or even a mentor. Except for the busy summer months with camps and tournaments, the meeting rooms and much of the equipment sits idle during the normal work day.
North Augusta does not need a senior center, North Augusta needs a person to program for our adults using the facilities and existing programs already in place.