At one point, the seniors didn’t know if they would ever step through the doors at 124 S. Main St. again.
The Brownstown Senior Center was in a state of limbo after the fall of 2017 with director Cora Lucas retiring from her job with Thrive Alliance, which operated the center.
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Concerns arose over the future of the center in 2018, and a discussion on moving the seniors to a new facility was addressed at a town council meeting.
The members of the senior center voiced their displeasure of the thought of moving locations and asked what would need to happen to stay put.
To stay in the building, a director was needed to volunteer his or her time to manage schedules, events and drivers, take calls for people to be picked up and fill out paperwork.
Now, Mona Wray has stepped in and stepped up to the task of volunteering.
“I was asked by one of the seniors to come here,” she said. “At the time, they were wanting to move the seniors out of this building. I was asked to come here and help stop that. This needs to stay for the senior citizens. There are a lot of seniors that have no other place to go. We’re right here in town, and it gives them a place to enjoy and socialize.”
Depending on the day, Wray estimates there are nine to 25 seniors at the center.
She has dedicated her time to making the senior center a better place over the past few months.
When Wray stepped in, the center wasn’t offering a daily meal, and the van needed repair and a driver.
It didn’t take long for the center to change that.
“Last November or December, they got the van running and up to date,” Wray said. “The front end has been worked on. The city has taken very good care of it. The means are provided through a grant.”
Wray and Margareet Welch, who regularly attends the center, cook meals for the visitors each day in the kitchen at the center.
Wray said the seniors make donations to purchase food, and Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana comes once per month.
This past Christmas, Brownstown Central High School’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes also made a donation.
On one wall of the center, a new conglomeration of photos can be found filling up the blank space.
Now that the van is fully operational, the seniors have made trips all around the area, including Bedford, Brown County, Edinburgh and Loogootee. The group also has gone down to Louisville, Kentucky.
“We’ve been running everywhere,” Wray said. “We also go to (Seymour) Crossing for breakfast and music once a month and the Covered Bridge (Health Campus in Seymour) for breakfast and bingo once per month. We’ve been to a few other restaurants and down to Lights Under Louisville. We’ve been just traveling, eating and doing other things. We’ve been to Amish country a couple times, too. We plan on getting out of here about four days per month.”
Ann Richard makes sure to come to the center every Thursday for bingo.
“I’ve come here for years,” Richard said. “I keep coming back to play my bingo on Thursdays. I want to stay here. We’re used to it, and I think all the people fit in here. More people are coming. I’m not sure why. It might be because of the food.”
Lonnie Root regularly goes to the center and said he appreciates what Wray has done.
“She has given this place some love,” Root said. “She has done a good job. She has really cleaned it up.”
While she’s happy with the progress, Wray she would like to see more improvements.
“Right now, we’re applying for a grant, but we won’t hear back until the last week of October,” she said. “We would like to put in extra kitchen cabinets. We would also like some corkboards to be able to put up photos to show what we are doing and going. I want to work on getting new carpet for our center.”
In the future, Wray also plans on having seniors from the Crothersville community come to Brownstown.
“One thing that I’ve looked into, which I’m hoping to get started next month, is Crothersville,” Wray said. “While they don’t have a bus driver right now, I got it approved through the board of directors that our driver can go there, get a busload and come back here. We can play bingo or euchre, feed them lunch and get them back home by 1 p.m. Maybe a month later or so, they will maybe host us.”
Jean Shelton said she has been coming to the senior center for about sixth months and now comes every day.
“Since I’ve been here, things have been going pretty good,” Shelton said. “I like the atmosphere and the people. I come about every day. We play bingo, euchre and sit and talk.”
On Aug. 20, the center had a new decal sprawled across the front window.
The sign has a tie-dye bus with a driver waving and an American flag behind it, welcoming all that enter.
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The Brownstown Senior Center is at 124 S. Main St.
It’s open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday with a meal served at 11:30 a.m. Euchre, bingo and other activities are offered. Anyone 55 and older is invited.