Senior Friendship Centers welcomes older adult YMCA members
SARASOTA COUNTY - A Suncoast non–profit is rolling out the "Welcome" mat for older YMCA members looking for a place to fit in once two YMCA branches close for good September 13th.
Earlier this week in a community meeting, hundreds of members expressed their frustration with the loss of jobs and a place to stay active. But for senior citizens, it's more than that; i's the loss of a community. For some, the thought of joining a corporate gym is terrifying. It was a feeling, Zak Zakaria initially felt, joining the YMCA more than 10 years ago. He said, "I liked the activities there. I love dancing. They have the dances there every Saturday."
Zakaria was shocked last week hearing about the YMCA closings, but grateful to fall back on the Senior Friendship Centers, where he's able to teach his passion. He said, "I started teaching dance classes here in 2008. It's a great way to meet people and to learn."
The non–profit hopes to fill a void for older YMCA members. Erin McCleod, President and CEO of Senior Friendship Centers said "What the community is not losing is a place for people to go and gather and that's what the Friendship Centers has been for 46 years."
A $75 annual membership grants access to anything from weekday dance parties to daily lunches to $4 fitness classes. She said, "We have yoga, Tai Chi...there's ballroom dancing, ballroom dance classes, they can take a hula class."
McCleod said the non–profit is working to adopt a slice of the Y and reduce unemployment. She said, "Reaching out to those instructors to see if we can offer those same classes they were offering at the Y. So just stay tuned." For now, the center is happy to help seniors transition into a community center catered just for them.
For more information on Sarasota Senior Friendship Centers click here.