Mt. Carmel Senior Center members are on a mission.
They want to recruit new members and they think a new center would help increase their numbers. To that end, they are gathering signatures on a petition for a new, larger facility.
The small center operates one day a week at Mt. Carmel United Methodist Church's educational building in Parkton, which is rented by the county's Department of Aging for the center. It is open to those 60 or older and features activities, seminars and lunch each Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The seniors watched as the Jacksonville Senior Center moved two years ago from a dilapidated building to a new facility complete with exercise room.
Now, they say, it's their turn.
"We need a new center and we need to keep it in this area," said senior center member Chuck Castle. "If we can increase our membership, it will help show we're committed to this. We have to create a vision of a new center and get new members to buy into that vision. Everybody should know we're not going away."
Members recently paid for and erected a new, bigger sign at the intersection of Mt. Carmel and Prettyboy Dam roads in hopes of increasing their visibility.
Center Director Sally Cavanaugh, said the center has 300 registered members, but regular attendance generally runs only between 30 and 65. The members' goal is to increase membership to 500 and they plan get 500 signatures on their petition to help the goal.
"It seems like the number 500 is enough to ring the politicians' bells," Castle said.
He and two other members recently toured the Arbutus Senior Center, which operates five days a week. It shares a building with the Arbutus Library, an idea that appeals to both Hereford Library and Mt. Carmel Senior Center. As a matter of fact, Laura Pawlak, president of the Friends of the Hereford Library, is actively campaigning for a new, larger library. Located in a rented space on York Road in Hereford, the 7,500 square-foot library is the only leased library in the county.
Last year, Mt. Carmel Senior Center President Irene Altenburg, a founding member in 1979, wrote letters to County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and 3rd District Councilman Todd Huff to let them know the library and center have teamed up in the crusade for a new multi-use building.
"I'm working with the county executive on ways with come up with funding. That's the biggest problem," Huff said.
Members of Mt. Carmel Senior Center plan to operate an information booth and petition drive at the Hereford Parade Festival at the intersection of York and Mt. Carmel roads, on July 1 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.