Rec Sports Spotlight: Hampstead resident recognized for volunteer work

Lorraine Riley is truly a senior in action.

However, the Hampstead resident doesn't think she did that much to earn the nod as the Seniors in Action Recreation Council's Volunteer of the Year last November. Yet if you look at what she has done over the past year, you'll find she had a big hand in resuscitating an organization that badly needed resuscitation. She has proven herself a senior in action.


Seniors in Action Community Coordinator Matt Purkins selected Lorraine for her yoeman work on the council's behalf during the 2014-2015 period.

"She has been pro-active in planning trips and bringing in new members. She also helped line up speakers," Purkins explained.

Riley has been a member almost since the Council began in 1989. She joined in 1996 and saw the group grow rapidly. Its monthly luncheons generally attracted 80-to-90 people in those days. But then came 2008 and the sharp economic downtown. And with it began a decline in membership that continued afterward.

Riley feels that was a big turning point from which the group has still not recovered.

"I just don't think seniors have the money they had before 2008," she said.

Around that time, the club's luncheons began costing more money, and it had to move the meeting venue a couple of times to get more affordable meals. In 2014, attendance at the monthly get togethers was down to about 30 or 40. There was talk of disbanding the group due to lack of attendance and interest.

But Lorraine, who serves as Council co-vice president along with her husband Robert, would have none of that.

She began asking people for suggestions about trips the group could take and speakers for the meetings. She also consulted with the manager of the Westminster American Legion where the Council now holds its luncheons in order to find meals all members can eat. Now, there is an alternate meal that can be served for those who can't handle the monthly meal selection.

Lorraine also went out among her neighbors and friends to recruit members. She personally added six to the membership rolls.

At least partially through her efforts, Seniors in Action's active membership has now risen to 50 or 60, Purkins says.

Partly due to her urging and ideas she developed, the Council began doing day trips again last year. She also arranged to use the County's vans for the trips rather than hiring a bus. This saved the group's members a lot of money.

Some of the places they went last year were the Washington D.C. Cathedral and the Hickory Bridge Farm Restaurant in Orrtanna, Pennsylvania.

The group also scheduled some interesting speakers last year. These included radio personalities "Merson Person" and Johnny Dark. a collector who displayed antique handkerchiefs, an expert on antique radios that date from the 1920's and speakers about various health topics. A couple of years ago, it even brought in an Elvis imitator who proved to be a big hit.

Riley says that seniors are different now than they were when the council started 27 years ago.


"It's hard to get them to come to daytime activities because people are working longer. But we don't schedule night activities because many don't like the change," she says.

However, there are positive changes, too.

Riley says that today's seniors are younger and far more active than they were years ago. They like to get out and travel, and that makes it easier to schedule the day trips that are a big part of the group's offerings.

She has ambitious plans for the future of Seniors in Action.

"I want to improve our trips, and I want to improve our numbers. I'm always asking people for ideas," Riley said.

Another thing she'd like to see are more people to step up and be leaders.

"If somebody wants to do something, don't just sit around and talk about it. Do it!" she declares.

The rec council will travel to the Hershey Hotel restaurant for a brunch on the second Sunday in March.

Seniors in Action is open to Carroll County senior citizens aged 55-over. It meets noon on the second Tuesday of each month at American Legion Post 131, 2 Sycamore Street in Westminster. For information about the council and its activities including the upcoming Hershey trip, contact the Carroll County Department of Recreation and Parks at 410-386-2103, or Matt Purkins at 410-857-4832.