At the Monmouth Senior Center, everyone is made to feel welcome.

“The senior community needs someone to care, make them feel important, give them a place where they can fellowship, have fun, increase their knowledge, provide ways to keep their bodies fit, and even have a place to volunteer so they know they are still needed,” says Sue Teal, director. “The center serves 55 and older, but also is considered a community center that allows people to rent the facility or hold classes for younger adults.”

Started in 1974 by the seniors in Monmouth and funded by the city, the center has grown from its modest beginnings to more than 300 members who gather for classes, activities, trips, services and resources that meet the needs of senior citizens.

A Senior Meal Site is located at the center, and Meals on Wheels are delivered weekdays. Frozen meals can be purchased for the weekends for a suggested donation of $3 per meal. A reservation is needed in advance for each hot meal, providing time for selecting entrée choices. Diners must be 60 or older to qualify for a meal.

With such an important role to play, space in the facility is often at a premium, so expanding the building was to be expected.

“The original building was built by volunteers in 1986,” Teal says of the building at 180 Warren St. “We began the new expansion 30 years later.”

In 1994, a new classroom addition was done, and with the office becoming more like a hall, another addition in 2004 saw the completion of a new office for the center’s coordinator, Teal says.

“There was a porch on the front of the building that was not used much, so it was enclosed in 2005, making room for a library, a place to play games and cards, and an area where people sit and have coffee and visit,” she adds.

As the center continued to grow, the areas started getting cramped and a little over a decade ago, plans were started to add on more space.

“With the building of the original building, it took 15 months of every day work for volunteers in the community and four senior-aged men who took it upon themselves to be here and see that the work was done,” Teal says. “The four men received the Governor’s Award for Volunteerism in the state of Oregon that year.”

Spearheaded by Andy Medcalf Construction, Teal says the new expansion adds 2,565 square feet to the facility, almost doubling its usable space. The addition has two classrooms, two bathrooms with three stalls each, a huge storage room, and a hallway that includes the stained glass window that was installed when the original building was only two years old, she says.

“This extra room will provide the participants with more options for classes, and with the lower ceilings, the hearing will be much better for those with hearing aids,” she says. “There is carpet in the two classrooms, and they will be used for classes we have now besides expanding programs. This will free up the multipurpose room for more options such as lectures and programs. There are many topics that seniors are interested in and are very beneficial to them. One of the first programs will be senior law.”

Teal says people are very excited about the expansion, which entailed more than a decade of fundraising to raise the $600,000 needed for the project. The city of Monmouth was a major funder as was the Ford Family Foundation, Meyer Memorial Trust, Collins Foundation and Oregon Community Foundation.

“Fundraising efforts helped bring in over $100,000 in one year,” Teal says. “It has taken a community to see the money come in.”

The building is almost completed, with a few small details to finish before final inspection. It was celebrated with an open house on Jan. 19 that included a ribbon cutting ceremony.

Future plans include purchasing needed items, and “enjoy what has been done,” Teal says. “It will take some time to get things organized, and we have many members asking how they can help.”

Friends of Monmouth Senior Center contribute its support throughout the year to the center, which has a full calendar of activities and classes every month.

Classes include tai chi, yoga, stretch exercise, Brain Builder, sewing, iPad classes, fly-tying, card making, writing, crafts, conversational Spanish, AARP Defensive Driving, ASL sign language, jewelry making, history, genealogy, photography, health and wellness, and computers.

Activities include support groups, karaoke, billiards, bridge, pinochle and board games, coffee and conversation, Wii bowling, a monthly potluck, ice cream social, music jam and women’s night out.

New classes and activities are added regularly, and can be found on the city’s website,

“We also have a big travel program, using a 15-passenger van that not only takes people on one-day trips, but also two or three extended trips,” she says. “Last June, we took five days into Washington and came home with so many of the areas we saw. Plans for this year include a spring getaway at Yachats on the beach in March, Crater Lake in May, and the McKenzie River.”

In addition to a variety of day and overnight trips, the center also offers trips in the United States and abroad through GroupActive and includes cruises.

Seniors can also avail themselves at the center of health clinics, medical equipment loans, library, wireless internet connection, help during tax season, toe-nail clipping, and referrals to other agencies. During the week, a Crafter’s Cottage offers homemade items for sale.

“If you want a place that feels like home with many things to do, it is the Monmouth Senior Center,” Teal says.

Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Memberships are $15 per year per person, which includes receiving the Senior Moments Newsletter. Membership is not required to participate in the Monmouth Senior Center or its activities.

For more information, call the center at 503-838-5678 or visit the Monmouth Senior Center Facebook page.

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