The center of their lives
Wheatland residents say their senior center is a place worth keeping around.
The center is nonprofit. A large part of its funds come from donation.
“It's always been a struggle,” said Wheatland senior Richard Philpitt.
Seniors said the center is safe for the rest of the year thanks to a recent contribution from the Wheatland builders group and an anonymous donation.
Now, seniors want to strengthen the center with numbers.
“We want more people to come in to keep the place going,” Philpitt said.
About 50 people came to the center in 1992 when it first started. About 20 people currently use the center, including three of the original members.
The social camaraderie formed when seniors congregate together is a major draw to the center.
“I go for the food and the fellowship,” Eunice Wilson said.
The occasion can be invaluable to some people, especially if they live alone.
“I came to the center five years ago, almost to the day,” Wilson said. “Six weeks later, my husband died. And I didn't know anyone in Wheatland.”
Wilson was invited back to the center and has kept going ever since.
“They were very sympathetic about my husband's death. And they just let me into their hearts,” Wilson said.
“It's just amazing the people you meet that have all kinds of experiences,” Philpitt said.
Philpitt recalled a lady at the center a few years back who told him when she traveled with her family in a covered wagon when she was a little girl.
“Almost impossible that you can go from a covered wagon to walking on the moon in one person's lifetime,” Philpitt said.
The seniors hold not only individual histories, but insights into Wheatland's history.
“Some of their ancestors came when the city was new during the gold mining era. And there is a great pride about the city,” Wilson said.
Wheatland's seniors want to share this history with those who haven't heard about the center and with those who are new to the area.
“There are so many new people coming into town, there are sure to be elderly people among them,” Philpitt said. “These are the people we want to reach.”
Appeal-Democrat reporter Breeana Laughlin can be reached at 749-4724. You may e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.