Arbutus Senior Center celebrates third anniversary

The Arbutus Senior Center will host special meals all week to celebrate the center's third anniversary since opening on Aug. 24, 2010.

The meals will range from a free lunch from Arby's on Aug. 19 to a $15 mini crab feast on Wednesday, Aug. 21. The celebration will culminate with hot dogs and anniversary cake on Friday, Aug. 23, complete with live entertainment.

"We're going to have some door prizes at the end of the week," said Senior Center Director Susan Patry. "Since we're closed on Saturday, we're doing it on Friday."

With about 60 people signed up for each free meal and more than 100 people signed up for the crab feast, Patry said the five days of festivities are a nice opportunity for seniors to congregate and meet new people.

"People like to celebrate different occasions, whether it be a birthday or an anniversary," Patry said. "It's a way of bringing people together, and maybe people who have been thinking about coming here but haven't [will] come here.

"It's an opportunity to come in and see what's going on," she said on the events at the center on Sulphur Spring Road. "Some people come to this because it's free and some just want to support the senior center."

The senior center is located in a complex with the Arbutus Library and Recreation Center at the corner of Selford and Sulphur Spring.

It is the first senior center Arbutus has ever had, and since its opening, Patry said the facility has hosted a myriad of events that have attracted a host of area seniors.

"There are new friendships happening all the time [here]," she said. "There's a wide variety of activities that you can participate in here. Some are very vigorous, some are very low key.

"I think that a lot of seniors that are from Arbutus weren't taking advantage at Catonsville or at Lansdowne," Patry said of the only area senior centers available to area residents before the Arbutus facility was built.. "To have it here in the community, it allows them a lot of new opportunities and things they may have never done before."

The need for a senior center in Arbutus was recognized by former 1st District Councilman Sam Moxley well before he put the wheels in motion for the complex to finally be built.

"When I first got into office, Mr. George Kendrick and a few others came to me and were constantly talking to me about gym space," Moxley said.

"Finally, the lease with our library was coming due and the question was, 'Do we continue to rent space? Or could we build a combination for the library and the rec facility? And realizing that there were needs for the senior center as well," he said.

"it wasn't just, 'We want this. Let's make it happen.' It was a process," Moxley said. "It took a while. It took years and years."

Moxley said he spent a lot of time working with county officials and community members to come up with the best possible option for the formerly wooded area where Sulphur Spring Road ends at Selford, an undeveloped site that some residents fought hard to protect.

"There were some people who were concerned about taking away open space, because that was a big piece of land owned by the county," Moxley said. "I think some people didn't want to see what was then open space go away."

The end result provided the community with not one, but three facilities for use by residents of all ages.

"When you look at that library, when you look at the use of all three facilities ... we have addressed the needs of a sample of the entire community," Moxley said. "From the young kids in the tiny tots programs all the way up to the seniors.

"It's a fantastic facility, all in one," he said of the complex. which allows shared parking for the three centers. "It's a real positive for the community."

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