Senior recreation council marks 10th anniversary; Group that organizes classes, trips now has more than 500 members


Just retired, Sykesville resident Bob Pepperney was looking for something to do when a newspaper advertisement caught his attention. The ad was seeking someone to organize a senior citizens recreational group in Carroll County.

"I went to the meeting and came out as president," said Pepperney, 77, a retired trouble-shooter for General Electric Co.

That was 10 years ago and the beginning of the Seniors in Action Recreation Council, a nonprofit group that helps plan activities, trips and recreational opportunities for active, independent senior citizens in Carroll County.

To celebrate its 10th anniversary, the council is sponsoring a musical, "Disney Magic," at Westminster High School at 2 p.m. Oct. 22. The show will be performed by the Senior Star Showcase of the Community Colleges of Baltimore County. Tickets, to be sold at the door only, are $2 for adults and $1 for children.

Seniors in Action, which meets at noon the second Tuesday of each month at the Westminster Riding Club, boasts more than 500 members. About 100 members attend each meeting, with lunch and a speaker as part of the program.

The council sponsors trips along the Eastern seaboard and as far as California. Many of the excursions are day trips, such as to Washington. This year, the group will have scheduled more than 20 day and extended trips.

The council also helps organize classes, held at Carroll County schools and ranging from karate to aerobics. The classes are funded with state grants.

Activities are open to anyone age 55 or older. Dues, which are optional, are $6 a year. Dues-paying members get a 5 percent discount on all trips.

The group's first meeting, held in the County Office Building, attracted quite a crowd, Barbara Lages, recreation supervisor for the county Department of Enterprise and Recreation Services, said.

"We had more than 100 people show up -- right at that meeting, they elected the officers, and they named the group that day," she said.

Creation of Seniors in Action was prompted by county residents who "were not ready for the senior centers yet" but wanted something to do, Lages said. The county worked with the Department of Aging to come up with a separate program.

Pepperney said organizing the group was sometimes frustrating.

"It took a while to build up," he said. "But as we added more trips, we attracted more people."

Pepperney said one reason he enjoys the group so much is because he meets people he can relate to.

"I enjoy the people, and you can talk to them, and they know what you're talking about," he said. "You can talk to your children, but they don't want to hear about all your aches and pains."

Westminster resident Grace Gladden, 76, said she joined the group after her husband died.

"I decided it was time to get on with my life," she said. "So I went to a meeting, and they said they needed a vice president. But the president resigned, and I became the group's second president."

She served as president from 1992 to 1994.

"I like to catch up with what's going on in the group, and I enjoy the trips," she said. "I was 70 years old when I went on one trip in which I rode a horse."

Westminster resident Ruth McKay, the group's secretary, said she learned of Seniors in Action by chance.

"I went to the Parks and Recreation Office to pick up a flier for one of my grandchildren and ran into Barbara [Lages]," she said. "I used to work with Barbara's mother."

Before long, she was involved with the council, too.

Pub Date: 9/15/99

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