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(L-R) Bill O’Reilly, Marcia White, and Sharon Kegerreis of Chelsea Senior Center. Photo by Jon Von Hoek.

In a bustling expansion of services and programs, the Chelsea Senior Center is redefining the landscape of senior care and community engagement.

The Sun Times News met with Bill O’Reilly, Executive Director, and Sharon Kegerreis, Outreach & Connections Coordinator, to hear more about the buzz as to what’s going on. Kegerreis and Marcia White, Member & Volunteer Services Coordinator, are two new staff members already making a splash in the few weeks they’ve been with the center.

Bill O’Reilly introduced the “Ease the Day” program, a novel endeavor funded by the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation aimed at providing crucial respite for caregivers of seniors with dementia or other health issues. “This program is a welcomed benefit, allowing caregivers to take a much-needed break while we care for their loved ones,” O’Reilly explains. The initiative, bolstered by a team and volunteers, currently operates on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with plans to expand.

Beyond caregiver support, the center has been a hub of activity, offering over 250 monthly activities, from pickleball and line dancing to woodcarving and quilting. These programs are part of a broader effort, supported by Washtenaw County and Federal ARPA funds, to enhance the center’s offerings and outreach. O’Reilly emphasizes the importance of these activities, “We’re more than just bingo. We’re a place where seniors can engage in a wide range of physical and creative activities.”

Sharon Kegerreis’s Outreach & Connections Coordinator role is pivotal in extending the growing center’s reach into the community. Through partnerships with local organizations and presentations, Kegerreis explains she is dedicated to “connecting seniors and spreading the word about our center’s vibrant offerings.” Her efforts aim to enrich the lives of seniors by promoting an inclusive, engaging environment.

The center’s commitment to wellness and engagement extends to innovative programs like the GrandPads initiative, which was introduced to connect seniors with their families and the world digitally. Funded by the Chelsea Community Foundation, this program is part of a broader strategy to address isolation among seniors.

Marcia White’s role as Member & Volunteer Services Coordinator further strengthens the center’s community ties. By facilitating connections between new members and existing groups, White ensures everyone can find a welcoming space to explore their interests. “We make it easy for new members to integrate into our community,” O’Reilly notes.

The Chelsea Senior Center is not just a place for leisure but a cornerstone of health and wellness. With over 500 people participating in trips last year and new support groups for those dealing with loss or memory care needs, the center is a comprehensive resource for the senior community.

O’Reilly and Kegerreis affirm that the Chelsea Senior Center is more than a physical space. It’s a vibrant community where seniors can thrive, explore new interests, and find support. With a robust calendar of activities, dedicated staff, and a community-oriented approach, the center is setting a new standard for senior care and engagement.

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