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For some, Senior Center is home away from home

Until five years ago, City of Chandler employee Nancy Jackson spent most of her time working with young people as a Recreation Coordinator at Snedigar Sportsplex in south Chandler. Today, she manages the Chandler’s Senior Center and works with the young at heart.

“I’ve always loved to be around seniors; this is where my heart is,” Jackson says smiling. A graduate of the University of Washington with a degree in Therapeutic Recreation, Jackson, her staff and groups of volunteers spend each weekday making people feel welcome, appreciated and loved.

For many who come here, this is not their ‘second home’, this is their first home,” Jackson explained. “This is where they come to meet up with their friends, who they also call their ‘family’. They socialize. They talk in the morning over coffee. They read the newspaper and play games. Most will have lunch, and for some, this is their only hot meal of the day.”

Located in downtown near the Chandler Public Library, the Senior Center was built in 1986 and provides a broad range of recreational and social activities for seniors - including an onsite weekday meal - that enhances the social, emotional and recreational needs of participants.

“What we like to focus on is making meaningful connections,” says Jackson. “That’s what life is about; meaningful relationships. We help stimulate those relationships by offering games and activities and excursions so they can interact with each other and with staff. It’s all about living and experiencing life and being surrounded by people you love and care about.”

Jackson says most of the activities at the Center require no fee, and field trips and excursions can cost as little as $5. Outside agencies supplement some of the Center’s activities with services such as legal consultations, blood pressure screenings, peer counseling and wheelchair and walker repair.

A number of seniors volunteer their time to work at the Center, serving meals, wiping down tables, setting up rooms or taking out the trash and recyclables. Jackson’s two sons, 18-year-old D.J. and 15-year-old Brody, have even joined the volunteer staff and helped out at events.

“When we go out in the community to promote the Senior Center, we say ‘come one time and you’ll want to come back’,” Jackson exclaimed. “Once they get here and see the hustle and bustle and energy that’s in this building, they’ll want to come back.”