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“People who stay young despite their years do so because of an active interest that provides satisfaction through participation.” Dr. William C. Menninger, psychiatrist (quoted The Saratogian, 3/20/1955)
“The right hobby may help to compensate for the loss of a former skill, and it may provide one of the best means of keeping older people physically and mentally alert…Besides providing much-needed funds, the sale of an item provides the individual with evidence that society still feels he can contribute…For a great number of older adults, the value of a hobby lies in actively demonstrating to themselves that they are still able to create.” Jerome Kaplan, A Special Program for Older People (University of Minnesota Press) (cited in The Saratogian, 3/20/1955)
What does it do? It encourages members to take part in interesting activities and helps them maintain their usefulness in the community. It helps spread information about employment opportunities, medical care, hospitalization, recreation, housing, pensions, social security, etc. It aims to coordinate agencies and groups working with Seniors into a program of mutual helpfulness.” (1960s welcome brochure)
From the beginning, Golden Age Club programs emphasized active learning through hobbies and social activities. Initial meetings included readings, literary discussion, and an interest in developing public speaking.
They continued in this vein as the Social Club when the Senior Center was founded in 1957.
By 1964, its fifth anniversary, the Center was open 5 days a week, 10am -4pm, offering a “variety of programs… so that each person is able to find some activity of interest.” The list included ceramics, painting, chair-caning, rug-hooking, card playing, billiards, group singing and sewing. Events included hobby and flower shows, dinners and picnics, field trips and weekly movie screenings. Membership, having climbed over 100 people, was free to anyone 50 years of age or older.
In 1967, picnics at the Spa and Lake George, a fall foliage tour, a day at Expo 67 and Christmas shopping in Colonie were among the outings. And the Center’s contributions to the community continued – including assistance at the Blood Bank, addressing and stuffing envelopes for Easter and Christmas seal drives. Members, alongside Skidmore students, participated in the funding campaign for the “United Community Fund of Saratoga, Inc.” of which it was an agency. (1968 Presbyterian report)
Center members participate in regional and national activities, such as the 1980s annual games started by the New York State Department of Parks, REcreation and Historic Preservation with the Office for the Aging. While some activities seem to draw different groups based on gender -- pool skews male, and cabaret female -- many activities find men and women working side by side.
The Center’s members also contribute to the community, supporting Christmas and Easter seals drives in the early years, helping with blood drives, and through the “Sunshine Club” visiting “shut-ins,” generally older and infirm seniors who cannot attend center events.