POPULAR SPOT: Florence Riford Senior Center is a hub of activity
Linda Hemphill does her best not to skip a weekday lunch at the Florence Riford Senior Center in Tonganoxie.
“I’d miss it if they didn’t have it,” Hemphill said. “It gets me out of the house.”
Senior citizens can eat at the senior center’s lower level, thanks to the Leavenworth Council on Aging. About 10 to 15 residents eat lunch at the center on weekdays, while another 40 lunches are sent out through the Meals on Wheels program.
Ruby Barclay, who works for the Council on Aging, said the program is popular in the community.
“We’re starting to build up our clientele,” Barclay said.
Hemphill said some of the people who take advantage of the meal, which comes with a suggested donation of $1.50, also play card games after their meals.
Bridge is the game of choice, and Hemphill said Ben Myers is the best bridge player in the group.
He said he’s played for several years. His brothers used to say that he started playing when he was in high chair.
A few tables away, John Brand and Gladys Hiatt worked on a puzzle. Some seniors also put puzzles together after the meals. Hiatt said she enjoys working on the puzzles, until, of course, she has trouble finding that one puzzle piece that needs to fit.
“It’s a challenge,” she said.
The two-level senior center is nestled in a residential area at Sixth and Bury streets in Tonganoxie, but it’s become a hub for activities.
While the meals are served downstairs through Council on Aging, the Tonganoxie Senior Quilters meet Tuesday and Friday mornings, generally finishing up about 1 p.m.
The Tonganoxie Seniors Club meets at 6 p.m. on the second Monday of each month on the center’s upper level.
Club president Mel Ramseier said the senior center provides meat for the dinners and residents in the club bring side dishes or desserts. There also is a short club meeting and usually entertainment after the meal.
For the Dec. 9 meeting, the club will have its annual Christmas dinner. Local businesses donate items to the club, which are given to residents through a drawing.
Ramseier said last year’s donations were so plentiful that he has been able to use some of them for club meeting drawings throughout the year.
The center also is home to bingo three times a month: The first Friday of each month bingo coincides with a Council on Aging meal. Tonganoxie Nursing Center residents visit for bingo the second Friday and Vintage Park residents the fourth Friday of each month.
Others in the community use the center as well.
Ramseier said people rent out the center for birthday parties, wedding rehearsal dinners and other events.
“There are three dates on the books right now to be rented,” he said.
The center gets plenty of use, but Ramseier welcomes anyone to contact him about renting it for events. His number is 913-980-2192.
He also encourages seniors to have weekday lunches that the Council on Aging provides to anyone 55 and older.
“It’s a buck and a half for a full meal,” Ramseier said. “And they’re always balanced meals and nutrition. All that good stuff.”
Hemphill is one resident who plans to keep visiting the senior center regularly for meals — and to play Bridge.
“It just makes my day to have this program,” Hemphill said.