Interest growing in Arbutus Senior Center

When the Arbutus Senior Center opened on Aug. 24 last year, Don and Fran Baker were among the first members to join the new facility at 855 Sulphur Spring Road.

A year later, the Bakers, who married 45 years ago, are two of the more than 800 registered members using the center.

"They have a lot of things going. It's nice meeting other people," said Fran, 67, about why she signed up.

"It's something to do, keep busy," added Don, 70. "We're both retired."

The Arbutus residents said they come about twice each week.

Fran enjoys crochet and knitting classes, and both enjoying volunteering at the center and using the exercise facility.

Susan Patry, director of the senior center since October, said one of her goals is to increase membership as the center begins its second year in the community.

Even though the senior center already has a wide variety of activities, such as fitness classes, visiting entertainers and organized group outings, Patry said the center will have more in its second year to provide better service to the existing members and to attract new ones.

Patry noted chess, pinochle, bridge and bingo groups have recently formed.

This fall, Patry said, the senior center will have an overnight trip to Lancaster, Pa., a flea market, Spanish and American Sign Language classes and a craft show, which will feature some of the work from the senior center's needle crafters.

Despite a host of activities, Patry said one of the biggest draws to the center is its fitness area, which has more than 100 members, another number Patry hopes to increase.

"It's amazing," Patry said as five people used the cardio and weight equipment at 2 p.m. Aug. 10. "I would think people would be winding down for the weekend."

Hoping to capitalize on the interest shown in the first year, Patry said the center may get instructors from the Community College of Baltimore County's Catonsville campus to teachPilates and other classes.

"Once we have enough interest in a subject, we'll look for an instructor," Patry said.

The Bakers noted that members can act as an instructors, too.

They recalled how a member would come in and paint and give lessons to anyone who requested them.

That type of camaraderie is typical, they said.

"Everybody seems to be very friendly," Fran said. "Everybody starts telling this, telling that. Then all of a sudden we're sitting there laughing.

"I'd like to see a lot more people come in," she said. "I enjoy talking to different people. You'd be surprised the stuff that you learn from different people."

Her husband, who graduated from Catonsville High School in 1960 because Lansdowne High School had not opened yet, also enjoys seeing others at the center.

"I'd love to see some of the older guys and gals that I grew up with," said the longtime Arbutus resident. "A lot of them are still (in the area)."

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