By Pat Farmer, firstname.lastname@example.org
3:54 PM EDT, August 29, 2012
It's been one year since the Laurel-Beltsville Senior Activity Center opened its doors, and those gathered for an anniversary party Aug. 27 had nothing but praise for the state-of-the-art facility on Contee Road.
"It's amazing, the community really needed it," facility manager Marybeth Dugan said. She said that in the last year, the facility has had 36,000 scans of member identification cards, which are required for entry. "Seniors love the building," she said.
During the summer, the center was rented almost every weekend, providing revenue, Dugan said. Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission owns the center, but the center is managed locally with input from senior organizations.
Celebrants at the first birthday party enjoyed listening and dancing to music by DJ Rich "Discman" Lichty, of Laurel, and were served cake and ice cream.
Hampton Conway, of Beltsville, who sang with the Queen's Chapel Chorus at the center's opening Aug. 26, 2011, led the attendees in a rousing version of "Happy birthday."
Members of All Together Laurel Area Seniors, or ATLAS, who had worked for more than a decade to help establish a senior activity center in Laurel, donated two birthday cakes and other refreshments. Sam's Club donated a third birthday cake and Dreyer's Ice Cream donated ice cream.
Curt Curtis, of ATLAS, said, "The center is flourishing, no doubt about it."
Curtis said that he had a big smile on his face opening day of the center and that every time he enters the building, that smile comes right back.
During the celebration Dugan awarded prizes to the three seniors who had visited the facility the most number of times, based on how man times they had scanned their admission cards. The top three scanners were Mary Barrett, 252 scans; Delores Howard, 230 scans; and Phillip Chase, 229 scans.
Barrett, of Laurel, who said she visits the center six days at weeks when the doors open, called the center "wonderful." She said that over the year, she has taken nearly every class offered, including piano, line dancing and senior fitness.
"The senior center has changed my life; it keeps me moving and healthy, and I feel good about myself," Barrett said.
Darilyn Marinelli, who oversees the five senior centers in Prince George's County, said, "This center has far exceeded my expectations, with the volume of seniors here on a daily basis, and the large numbers participating in classes and the special educational sessions."
She said that the center is highly supported by seniors, and she is "just thrilled."